Big Mama’s New Orleans Style Cosmopolitan Seafood Gumbo

by on January 29th, 2011
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Big Mama is a GIANT in the history and world of Southern Cuisine.

Big Mama is a grey haired, grey skinned, near toothless old black woman of otherwise indeterminate ancestry. She is a legend in the South. Her food-collard greens with ham hocks, black eyed peas with ham hocks, butter beans with ham hocks, pinto beans with ham hocks, fried chicken, fried okra, fried squash, fried turkey, fried catfish, fried oysters, fried calf fries (calf testicles), fried mountain oysters (pig testicles), chicken fried steak, sausage gravy, red eye gravy and so on-is legendary, too.

None of these traditional, heart plugging, bottom expanding, historically Southern culinary delights is more famous than her famous worldwide New Orleans Style Cosmopolitan Seafood Gumbo.

Big Mama’s Cosmopolitan Seafood Gumbo is the sort of Gumbo that truly masculine Real American Men and authentic All American She Women from all walks of life and from all over the world truly enjoy. Its hardy, it’s hot, it’s filling, and it’s not unwomanly or unmanly. She normally prepares it once a year, Mardi Gras, and serves it only to her most manly and womanly and American of clientele-falling down drunk American Street Cops. She wonders the streets of New Orleans during the Mardi Gras festival and finds these men and women staggering about the town, drunk, incoherent, disheveled and lurching from lamp post to lamp post in search of stable soil or sidewalk to stand on-soil or sidewalk that isn’t shifting up and down and side to side like the deck of a storm tossed ship adrift in a toxic alcoholic maelstrom from hell.

She takes them into her protective custody and nurtures them back to coherence and temporal sobriety, and feeds them sustenance in the form of this Gumbo, a True Gumbo, a Genuine New Orleans style Cosmopolitan Seafood Gumbo that will never see the light of day in places like the traditionally deviant Oprah Show, degenerate cable TV cooking shows hosted by borderline obese white women or felons-much less any of the alternate life style dining establishments along King Street in Olde Towne, Alexandria, Virginia.

She let me, The Story Teller, a humble spinner of tall tales and scribe of misconstrued American history, watch while she conjured up this olla-podrida, this aromatic ragout of neptunian culinary delight, and I, the Story Teller, wrote it all down. And, I am now bringing her secret recipe to you! What’s more, this recipe is available here ONLY!

It is with her special permission that I share it with you here.

Bon appetite, you all!

Ingredientes (Spanish for Ingredients)

Roast pork drippings

Roast Duck drippings

4 tablespoons of all-purpose white flour (5 or 6 if you want a dark roux)

1 x medium sized yellow onion or Spanish onion

3 x 8′ Anaheim chilies (you can toss in one or two Chile Poblano, if you like-NO BELL PEPPERS)

5 or 6 large tomatoes cut into 8ths

8 medium sized teeth of fresh garlic (chopped)

8 oz small Porto Bello mushrooms (fresh)

1 cup sliced celery

½ cup chopped celery leaves

½ cup of finely chopped parsley (but not too finely)

½ pound sliced okra (a bunch of okra the size of your little finger is okay, too.)

1/3 pound clam flesh (you can toss in a few cherry stone clams still in the shell, too)

1/3 pound of oysters (if you’re so inclined, not everyone is)

1/3 pound sliced squid (or a handful of baby squid)

1/3 pound baby octopus (cut into bite size pieces)

1/3 pound scallops (cut the large ones into 3 or 4 pieces)

¾ pound medium sized peeled shrimp

½ pound pieces of lobster (lobster tails)

½ pound pieces of crab (If you have a big enough pot, you can toss in some live whole crabs)

1/4 pound of mussels

¾ pound sliced fish. Croaker is good. (Cut into bite size pieces)

1/3 pound of sliced Tasso ham (If you can’t get Tasso, use something like Smithfield Country ham) cut into bite size pieces

½ pound sliced smoked Andouille alligator sausage (Italian sausage is okay if you can’t get the Andouille) cut into ¾” pieces

Flesh of ½ roast duck (cut it into bite size pieces)

1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)

1 tablespoon black pepper (or a few pepper corns)

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (its okay to add more)

3 tablespoons of Zatarain’s Seafood Seasoning. If you can’t finds Zatarain’s, Old Bay Seafood is fine.

3 or 4 leaves of Bay Leaf


Roast a couple of pork shoulders and save the drippings. You should have at least a cup and a half between the fat and the other body fluids. Take the flesh from the bones and give the bones to your dog. Do something with the pork roast. You won’t need it for the gumbo. If you don’t want to roast the pork shoulders specially for this gumbo, simply store up the drippings from those that you do cook and store the drippings in the freezer in an air tight container until you need it. Roast a duck and save the drippings. A 7 pound duck will produce about a cup or more of fat. Take the skin off the duck and give it to your dog. Pull the flesh off the bones. Be sure to season it properly-salt, garlic, black pepper. DO NOT PUT THAT CHINESE STUFF ON IT! Sautee the onion, chilies, mushrooms, garlic and celery in the pork fat. Toss everything but the duck fat and flour into a big pot. Fill with water to cover the contents. Bring to a boil Simmer for an hour or so. Taste it. You might want to add some more Zatarain’s or garlic, etc. Brown the flour in the duck fat. This is the roux. The okra will thicken the gumbo but the roux will thicken it, too. You can increase or decrease the amount of flour to your preference. Roux helps thicken the gumbo, too, but the darker the roux (meaning the longer and darker you brown the flour), the thinner the roux. Big Mama prefers a dark roux. Mix the roux into the gumbo. Cook another hour or so . Once you add the roux, it will be more susceptible to burning, so stir it occasionally. Serve with white rice. Not brown rice. Not Jasmine rice. Not Japanese rice. Not Korean rice. Not basmati rice. Use plain, long grain steamed rice that Real Americans call “White Rice.” (Well, okay, REAL American Southerners call it “Whaht” rice. If you’re pining for the glory days of the old south that probably never were and never will be, or your basic training days in the Army, maybe boot camp in the USMC, it’s okay to use Uncle Ben’s rice. You can call that “Whaht” rice, too.)

True Americans may enjoy this truly American Gumbo with “Nando’s Extra Hot s Peri Peri Sauce” from South Africa. This stuff is pretty good. Another good hot sauce Melinda’s Naga Jolokia Sauce from India. The other name for “Naga Jolokis” is “Ghost Chile.” Fiery and Smokin’ is a good way of describing this liquid heat.

Ground red pepper is good, too.

Like I said above–Bon Appetite, you all.

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