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Mary Mahoney's Old French House Seafood Gumbo

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Cuisine: Creole Soup

From the menu of . . . Mary Mahoney's Old French House Restaurant
110 Rue Magnolia, Biloxi, Miss.

Q: While staying at a bed-and-breakfast in Biloxi, my husband and I ate at Mary Mahoney's, a local favorite. We agreed that the gumbo was delicious.
- Georgeann McIlhaney, Marietta

A: The gumbo recipe is included in "A Passion for People: The Story of Mary Mahoney and Her Old French House Restaurant" (Quail Ridge Press, $9.95).

Hands on time: 30 minutes  Total time: 2 hours  Serves: 16


    6 tablespoons flour
    5 tablespoons bacon drippings
    2 onions, chopped fine
    1 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
    1 small head garlic, chopped
    1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
    1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
    6 cups water
    1/2 tablespoon salt, or more to taste
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste
    2 pounds shrimp (fresh or frozen), peeled
    2 pounds crab meat (fresh or frozen), picked over to remove shell or cartilage
    1 (16-ounce) package frozen cut okra
    1 pint oysters (optional)
    3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


In an 8-quart stockpot, brown flour in bacon drippings over medium heat to make caramel-colored roux, stirring often for about 6 to 8 minutes. Be careful it doesn't scorch. Carefully add onions, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, salt and pepper. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.

(Note: At this point you may divide the gumbo base, which will total about 12 cups. Continue cooking some with a proportional amount of the remaining ingredients, and refrigerate or freeze the rest of the base for another meal.)

To finish: Add fresh or frozen shrimp, fresh or frozen crab meat and frozen okra. Raise heat to bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer an additional 20 minutes. (If using oysters, add them during last 5 minutes of cooking.) Add Worcestershire sauce, remove from heat and stir well. Serve over hot rice. --- Adapted from: "A Passion for People: The Story of Mary Mahoney and Her Old French House Restaurant"


Like many restaurant recipes, this one feeds a crowd. Its 24 cups make 16 generous main-dish servings over hot rice or 24 or more first-course servings. While it can be halved easily, why not stretch your effort by making the base up to the point of adding seafood, then dividing it. Use part to continue with the recipe today and freeze the rest. All you'll have left to do is add the seafood and okra, simmer 20 minutes, stir in Worcestershire and the gumbo's on. Be sure to offer Tabasco on the side for those who like it spicy.


Per main-dish serving (without rice or oysters): 176 calories (percent of calories from fat, 27), 21 grams protein, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 5 grams fat, 109 milligrams cholesterol, 977 milligrams sodium.

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