Clean, prep, and set aside all fresh ingredients. Shrimp needs to be peeled and deveined. Defrost well in advance if you are using frozen chicken or shrimp, then prep.
Clean and cut fresh okra into bite sized pieces. Drain and set aside.
Put dried shrimp into spice blender and blend to a power; or you may mince finely by hand. Set aside.
Chicken thighs should be cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.
Use a dutch oven or other large, heavy pot. Place on burner and pre-heat on medium flame. When pot is warm, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Continue to heat oil.
Toss chicken in flour until lightly coated. Add flour coated chicken to pot when oil is heated. Stir with a wooden spoon until all chicken pieces are lightly browned. Remove from the pot and set aside.
Making the roux: Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Add 1/2 cup flour To heated oil. Wisk to blend. Continue to add flour in small amounts until a paste is formed, whisking constantly. Brown the flour Brown the flour to at least a deep camel color. You can brown to a darker brown. The darker the color the stronger the flavor. Be careful not to burn the roux. If burned, you will have to start again. When done, set the roux aside.
Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Reheat the pot. When the oil is hot, add onion, celery, bell pepper, ground thyme,oregano, bay leaves, and one third of the paprika. Stir constantly,on medium heat until onions and celery are translucent. Add minced garlic and stir.
Add 1 quart of chicken stock to the mix. Stir while heating stock. Add remaining quart of chicken stock slowly until the stock is heated to a medium-high temperature. Liquid should be just below a rolling boil. Reduce the flame as needed to maintain at a simmer.
Add chicken and continue to simmer and keep covered. Stir periodically. Simmer for 30 minutes to any hour, until chicken is tender.
Add dried shrimp/shrimp powder to the pot. Stir well. Continue to simmer. You may add dried shrimp whole if you prefer, rather than to grind to a powder.
When chicken is nearly tender, add okra to the pot, stir, and continue to simmer.
To thicken the gumbo, you may add the roux to the gumbo 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir well with each addition. Give the gumbo a few moments to thicken after each addition.
Add remaining spices and herbs when chicken is tender.
Add the prawns and reduce the flame to medium low. Stir until prawns begin to change color.
Add the cooked shrimp, stir, turn off the flame and cover.
Add crab meat. Stir into gumbo without breaking crab chunks/lumps.
Let the pot rest for 20 minutes. Taste. Add salt & pepper to your taste.
Serve over cooked long-grain rice. Offer pickled jalapenos, vegetables and Tabasco or hot sauce on the side to dress the dish to each person's taste.