Lee Ellis and Jim Mills, winners of the best new restaurant at this year's CultureMap Houston Tastemaker Awards for their eatery State Fare Kitchen and Bar, know what they're looking for when shopping for food.
At Whole Foods Market, Ellis (known as State Fare's "creator") and Mills (the "doer") are picking out ingredients to make their Sabine Pass Gumbo, a spicy mix of andouille sausage, chicken, shrimp, and crab.
They've also revealed the recipe below so that you can make it at home. Join them as they get "all the good stuff," then whip up a stockpot of this gumbo the next time you need to please a crowd.
Sabine Pass Gumbo
Makes 1 gallon
1 gallon cool water
1 tablespoon chicken base (paste)
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups onion, diced medium (reserve peels and trimmings)
10 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 pounds andouille sausage, diced large
2 ½ ribs celery, diced medium (reserve leaves and trimmings)
3 green bell peppers, diced medium (reserve trimmings)
1 14 oz. can diced and peeled tomatoes (reserve liquid)
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 blue crabs, cleaned and halved (reserve top shell and liquid)
2 pounds medium Gulf shrimp, peeled and de-veined (reserve shell and liquid)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
Filé powder to taste
1 quart cooked white rice
Fill a stockpot with water, then add chicken base, all the reserved vegetable peelings, shrimp, and crab shells. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce and simmer about 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and set aside.
Place the canola oil in a heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Add the first measure of flour and stir well.
Stir continuously as the flour cooks and watch as the color changes. At first, it will turn light brown, then deepen into a darker brown. In the next stage, the roux will have a reddish color, then turn a dark brown (the color of milk chocolate).
Continue to stir until the flour is the color of a cup of strong black coffee — there will be small wisps of white smoke coming from the roux at this point.
When the correct color is reached, quickly add the second measure of flour and stir, then immediately add the onion. Stir well so that the water the onion releases will cool the roux to prevent overcooking.
After a minute, add the garlic. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the roux looks shiny, and then add the sausage.
Lower heat and stir in the white wine a bit at a time, mixing well between additions so the gumbo will be free from lumps.
Increase heat to medium and let cook, stirring often until the liquid boils.
Add the stock prepared from vegetable trimmings and seafood shells and return to the boil.
Add the diced celery, bell pepper, tomato, black pepper, bay leaf, and thyme.
Return to boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer and add the chicken breast and crab. Simmer slowly for an hour or so.
Taste and correct the seasoning, but keep in mind that the Worcestershire and hot sauce haven’t been added yet and that it will be reheated before serving. At State Fare, we always chill the gumbo overnight, which greatly improves the flavor.
To serve, reheat the gumbo to boiling, then reduce heat to a quick simmer and add the shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
Note: The sausage we use is quite spicy, with a fair amount of red pepper, so this recipe doesn’t call for any. Other sausages might be milder so adjust the heat to taste.
When the shrimp are cooked through, ladle the gumbo into serving bowls, ensuring that each serving contains some crab. Send the rice to the table separately, along with filé powder to add if desired.