There are as many ways to make gumbo as there are cooks on the Gulf Coast. This Creole gumbo uses a combination of tomatoes and okra as a thickener instead of a roux. If you don’t have fresh okra, frozen (unbreaded) okra will work.
Okra & Tomato Gumbo
4 tablespoons butter, separated
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 large yellow onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
6 large vine-ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored and finely diced
6 cups seafood stock
1 pound fresh okra, trimmed and cut into ½-inch thick pieces
1 pint shucked Gulf oysters, and their liquor
1 pound Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
Cooked white rice, for serving
Chef’s Tip: Slice a shallow X through the base of each tomato and drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then dunk them in a bowl of ice water. Let them cool for a few minutes and their skins will peel right off.
In an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the thyme, bay leaf, onion and bell pepper; cook until golden, 10-12 minutes. Add the parsley and tomatoes; cook until tomatoes break down, 4-5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the cut okra and cook until okra is tender and flavors have melded, 20-30 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and oysters with their liquor during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Add contents of the skillet to the tomato stock. Stir and season with salt and pepper; discard bay leaf. Serve with rice.