This is my version of a fantastically rich, delicious gumbo recipe, full of crab and shrimp, taught to me by a Cajun lady at a friend's fish camp on Lake Maurepas (located in southeastern Louisiana approximately halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge directly west of Lake Pontchartrain.) Down there, they use fresh shrimp and live crabs harvested only minutes away from their door. Since I live in Kentucky, I've adapted the recipe to use the seafood available in our area. There IS an advantage though, no shells in the gumbo! Photo credit: Wikipedia; I'll add my own, the next time I make it.
(*NOTE: All times are approximate. Also, add more crab or shrimp, if desired. You may do some of the prep work on the day before.)
Assemble and prep all ingredients (peel shrimp, cover and refrigerate; chop onions and celery etc...)
Fill a very large pot, with a perforated insert, with water; bring to boil over high heat; add crab legs, return to boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook crab for 5 minutes.
Remove insert with crab legs; rinse crab with cold water to cool; place on large, rimmed sheet pan or in a large bowl. Reserve cooking water.
Use a nut-cracker, kitchen shears and a nut pick to remove all meat from shells to a bowl; cover and refrigerate. Discard crab shells.
Return insert and add shrimp shells to water in which crab was cooked; bring to a boil, over high heat, for 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low to keep water/broth warm. Remove insert with shells; discard shells and reserve water/broth.
It is time to make a roux. In a very large, stainless steel pot, add oil and flour; stir until very well combined and no lumps remain. (My gumbo pot is either 16 or 18 qts.)
Cook, stirring constantly with a long wooden spoon over medium heat, until the color of a copper penny (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, just don't rush it! If it scorches, throw it out, wash your pot and start over.)
When it is the correct color, remove from heat; immediately add all of the onions and at least 10 cups of the broth and/or water.
Return to high heat; stir until roux blends well with water.
Add okra, celery, 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Bring to boiling, lower heat to medium/medium low; cover and simmer for about 3 hours (or 2 to 4 hours,) stirring occasionally and adding water, as needed.
After simmering for 2 to 4 hours, add seafood and simmer for additional 1/2 hour or so. Taste to determine if extra salt or cayenne pepper is needed.
Add 1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons filé (or more.) Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed (no double-dipping!)
Serve over warm, cooked white or brown rice. Traditionally served with potato salad on the side. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Freezes well; thaw in refrigerator; reheat gently and briefly to avoid tough shrimp.