The pickle man

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gumbo Dip

Monroe Mardi Gras is one of my favorite things about living as an adult in the town where I grew up.  No, it's not as fancy as New Orleans Mardi Gras, or as old as Mobile Mardi Gras, but there's just something that feels very "circle of life" about putting my kids on my shoulders on the same corner where I used to stand and scream "Throw me something, Mister!" as a child.

Of course, I also love Mardi Gras food.  Jambalaya, king cake, bourbon slush, muffalettas, my mother-in-laws's crawfish cornbread... my mouth waters just thinking about it.  This year, I decided to bring gumbo dip to our celebration. It takes the ingredients of gumbo into portable, tail-gate or Super-Bowl-Sunday-worthy form.
Turn up the zydeco and enjoy!

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, diced fine
2 ribs celery, diced fine
1 bell pepper, diced fine
2 cloves or 1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup cut okra (can use frozen)

 1 lb small shrimp (I use frozen 150 count, so really small,  defrosted)
1-2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper, salt)
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chicken stock, shrimp stock, or water, for thinning if needed
4-5 dashes Tabasco (optional)

Dice the vegetables (a food processor makes this part easier).  Saute them in butter over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, until soft.  Add the garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Add okra and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. If you are using frozen shrimp, defrost them (I just ran warm water over them for a few seconds, enough to break them apart). Add the shrimp and stir until they are pink and opaque (usually 5-7 minutes).
Turn down the heat and add the seasonings and softened cream cheese, cut into cubes.
Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese.  Taste for seasonings.  I had to add a little broth since mine was very thick and hard to stir.  I also added some Tabasco.

Spoon into an oven-proof bowl.*  Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan cheese on top of the dip, and heat in a 350 degree oven until warm and bubbly, usually about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with toasted french bread or a sturdy cracker.

*Stop at this point if you are making this ahead.  This dip can be made and assembled 1-2 days in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to be baked.  If you do this, add 15 minutes to the baking time.
Technically, this picture is from New Orleans Mardi Gras
Cousins at Monroe Mardi Gras! 

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