Mixed-up Gumbo

There are two kinds of Louisiana Gumbo. There is one with chicken and sausage and there is one with seafood. According to traditionalists, never the twain shall meet. Unless, of course, you’re a rich Northerner and you like both so much that you start mixing things up.

This is exactly what the two famous, Manhattan-based authors of the Silver Palate cookbook series did, beginning way back in 1982. The mixed-up gumbo I make is based on the original, super-fancy seafood gumbo recipe first published in The New Basics Cookbook.  I like to think of my gumbo as the poor man’s winter splurge recipe. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s basically peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic mixed with sausage and shrimp. And don’t forget: If it ain’t got okra, it ain’t gumbo.

Mixed-up Gumbo


  • 1 pound of spicy Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces (roll them like meatballs if they fall out of the casing)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound of okra chopped (frozen will do in a pinch)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4-5 Cups of chicken stock
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of peeled shrimp (the splurge)
  • 1 small can of crab meat
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)


  1. In a large pot, saute the sausage over medium heat until fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside on a paper towel to drain.
  2. Add half of the oil and the okra. Cook over medium heat until slightly soft.
  3. Add the rest of the oil, onions, bell peppers and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, cumin, cayenne, bay leaves and salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Use 4 cups of stock if you prefer the gumbo to be a bit thicker and stew-like.
  5. Add the shrimp and cooked sausage and cook for another 5 minutes
  6. Add the crab meat, which will thicken the gumbo a bit. Cook for another minute.

Serve over rice or eat plain from a bowl, like soup, as I do. This dish freezes very well so that you can enjoy a bit of Louisiana-style heat every now and then, over the cold winter months.

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