Whole30 Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo
I met my husband while living in Nashville. But there’s one more long-term love affair that started during my time in the South: Gumbo.
Gumbo was one of the first uniquely Southern foods I tried after settling into my new part of the country. And I ate gumbo at about every opportunity I had after that first bite.
I stumbled upon a really fantastic gumbo recipe in a cookbook that I previously would have been unlikely to want. It’s Clifford Wright’s Some Like It Hot. Even though my wimpy tastebuds have an aversion to spicy, I was totally geared toward woo-ing Rob at the time. And he falls in the category of “some who like it hot.” So I started cooking incredibly spicy, yet extraordinarily flavorful, foods. Mr. Wright’s gumbo recipe is killer.
Recently on a whim, I decided to try out the Whole30 meal plan with a couple of friends. I’d heard about it a lot, especially from my blogger friend Sara—who typically does the Whole30 thing in January every year. She’s got some good insight, so check out her site if you’re considering the program. Out on a walk on a crisp, early Fall morning, I suddenly found myself committing to Whole30. Here we go!
What I’ve realized is that, with the exception of cutting out certain food groups, I’m pretty on board with the whole “clean eating” style of cooking. Although I do have a mild weakness for sweet delights… But I will say that it’s been pretty easy to follow the program, and a lot of my favorite recipes can be easily modified into compliance. The MealBoard app has definitely been my saving grace, and I suspect it’s taken most of the challenge out of following the plan to a T. (Cheese and wine accounting for the remaining challenge…) And I also understand the benefits of cutting out the foods to find out how they impact my health upon reintroduction. I’m looking forward to getting that info.
With the season changing to Fall, I’ve been in the mood for soups and stews. Gumbo is definitely a go-to recipe for me this time of year. And really, it’s pretty compliant with Whole30 as is… except for the roux.
The roux. The quintessential thing that makes gumbo, well, gumbo. How do I replicate that? So I did some research. Many resources say that roux is used to add a nutty flavor to this classic Southern soup. Some say that it’s also a thickening agent, but others say that when the flour is cooked for so long, it loses it’s thickening power. So I decided to place more emphasis on the nutty flavor, which I found in… you guessed it: Nuts!
Almond flour is what I used as the base for my Whole30 gumbo roux—also making this recipe gluten free. And instead of regular butter, I just subbed in ghee. Easy switch. I also added a touch of cocoa for color and flavor—that turned out to be a pretty good move. The rest of the ingredients are already 100% compliant, so we’re good to go.
I found that the almond flour browned up much, much more quickly on the stovetop. Typically, I spend 30-45 minutes (depending on my patience level) when making a roux. And I usually sip a nutty brown beer while doing it. Since that’s not an option, I was pleased to find that almond roux really only takes 8 minutes at the most. Piece of cake. Wait, don’t eat that cake! 😉 (Can we say “force of habit?”)
Although I used Mr. Wright’s gumbo recipe as my baseline guide, I made some modifications for my Whole30 version in the interest of time and cleanup. One of the brilliant things he does to add superior flavor to his gumbo is to make stock from the shrimp shells and heads. It’s awesome, but it requires another pot, a strainer, and more steps to get to the final result of mouthwatering gumbo. This is why it ends up as a weekend recipe for me normally. But I wanted gumbo on a Monday. So my recipe is a bit more simplified. You’re welcome.
If you’re not a shrimp person, you could switch it out for chicken—just add it when you add the sausage. And whereas Andouille makes this dish phenomenal, compliant smoked sausage also works in a pinch. It’s difficult enough to find Andouille above the Mason-Dixon line, and compliant Andouille is just a whole other ball game. Sheesh…
You’ll never know that it’s any different than classic gumbo. Even Rob, who usually shuns leftovers, took a bowl for lunch the next day. This Whole30 gumbo recipe is a winner!