What's funny is that the idea for gumbo started with a movie about a really poor family in New Orleans who, in one minor scene, gathered together at Grandma's for gumbo. Everyone grabbed a bowl and lined up at the stove for a big serving then found a seat to share the meal.
Something about that big pot simmering on the stove and large casual serving style appealed to Michael's family fantasy (lots of kids and multiple generations under one roof, sharing, caring and talking very loudly.)
Anyway, last year the scene inspired us to make gumbo (recipe below) and we made it again this weekend. But it wasn't until after we made a giant batch and even froze half of it, that we realized it might be the perfect party food for our impromptu Halloween party. So when four families came by after a stressful trick or treating (blood, sweat, tears and two families almost lost their second born), we reheated the giant pot and filled up 13 bowls and sat around to eat gumbo together. It was by far the best part of Halloween. Well, that and these two:
Group Gumbo (adapted from Shrimp, Chicken and Andouille Gumbo)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 large onions, chopped (about 12 cups)
3 red bell peppers, seeded, chopped (about 7 cups)
4 celery stalks, chopped (about 3 cups)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 8-ounce bottles clam juice
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 pounds andouille sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 pounds peeled deveined medium shrimp
Heat oil in heavy pot over medium-high heat until very hot—about 5 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark reddish brown, about 5 minutes.
(Note: For the veggie chopping, I used a food processor to pulse large chunks into small pieces—which I recommend if you have one. )
Add chopped onions, chopped bell peppers, and chopped celery and cook until onions are soft and brown, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and stir 2 minutes. Add wine, thyme, and bay leaves; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes with juice, clam juice, broth, sausage, and chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add shrimp to pot and cook stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with chopped scallions and steamed rice and hot sauce. Also freezes beautifully and keeps for days in the fridge.