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Haitian-Creole Seafood Gumbo

Makes 1/2 gal (more than enough for six people)

Preparing The Gumbo Base

Like a lot of sauces, it's best to make this the day before and cool overnight in the refrigerator to allow flavors to meld together.

Heat stock while preparing roux. Melt butter in a heavy pan. Add flour and stir in. Stir roux constantly over medium heat until it reaches a uniform chocolate color.

Remove roux from heat and immediately add celery, peppers and onions (the holy trinity of Creole cooking). This will stop the caramelization process. Stir the gumbo file into the roux and add stock. Return the gumbo base to heat and bring to a simmer, stirring a few minutes to let the roux cook.

Bake sliced sausage in a hot oven until browned. Add the sausage, tomatoes and baking soda to the gumbo base and simmer for 20 minutes more. Turn off the heat and add herbs, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and okra.

Making The Final Dish

Cooking the seafood separately from the gumbo base allows the shellfish to maintain its own identity.

About an hour before you're ready to eat, reheat the gumbo base until it nearly simmers.

Sauté all the clams and mussels in olive oil, chopped garlic and a splash of white wine in a large skillet or heavy bottomed pan until they just start to pop open. Add the shrimp and scallops, and continue to sauté until they are about done (when they start to lose their transparency).

Add the seafood to the gumbo base and toss to mix. Serve in a single large bowl, using tongs to arrange the clams and mussels along the edge of the dish. Place the rice in the middle of the dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley or finely diced peppers for garnish, if desired.

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