The self-taught chef and author of LuLu’s Kitchen is famous for her dark-roux gumbo—a heady collision of cayenne, bacon fat, and filé powder—that has been something of a culinary lodestar. It was there for her in the mid-'80s, when she ditched her job in Fairhope, Alabama, and headed to Belize to cook for Harrison Ford on the set of The Mosquito Coast. Later, it was her way out of SoHo, when cooking aboard an Antiguan yacht proved more appealing than a degree from the French Culinary Institute. And in the late 1990s, it was Buffett's ticket home to coastal Alabama, where she eventually opened the first LuLu's location on Week's Bay in Fairhope.
2 of 7Photo: Photo: Brian Woodcock; Styling: Rachael Burrow
Shrimp-and-Andouille Gumbo Dip
We put an app-worthy spin on classic gumbo with this delicious recipe. Start with Andouille sausage, red bell pepper, celery, green onions, sliced okra, garlic, shrimp, and creole seasoning over medium-high heat. After a few minutes of sautéing, stir in cream cheese and asiago. Crown the mixture with a panko and butter mixture, and place under the broiler for a few minutes to put the finishing touches on this crowd-pleasing dip. Serve it with breadsticks, veggie slices, crackers, or sliced baguette. The best part? It’s ready in 30 minutes.
3 of 7Photo: Jennifer Davick; Prop Stylist: Jan Gautro; Food Stylist: Marian Cooper Cairns; Recipe Developer: Dina Cheney
Shrimp-and-Crab Gumbo Over Grits
This recipe is as pretty as it is tasty, thanks to the pink of fresh shrimp, bright green okra slices, red broth (from canned tomatoes), and pearly white grits. If you’re not a grits fan, you can sub in rice, but we recommend giving the lowcountry staple a try. And the whole shebang pairs beautifully with a cold beer jazzed up with a squeeze of lime.
4 of 7Photo: Photo: Brian Woodcock; Styling: Rachael Burrow
Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo
This authentic little recipe uses the king of all sausages, spicy andouille, with fresh, peeled shrimp and traditional gumbo fixings. Start by simmering shrimp shells in chicken broth to add a rich flavor (or you can skip this step and start with store-bought peeled shrimp). Of course, the secret to a great gumbo is time (and lots of stirring). After cooking the sausage, you’ll remove it and combine drippings with enough oil to equal ½ cup. Combine oil and flour in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat (about 35 – 40 minutes), whisking constantly, until your roux is chocolate brown.
The stars of this spin on the bayou-inspired classic are roasted duck and fresh oysters. The recipe calls for 5 to 6 cups of chopped duck meat as well as 8 cups of duck stock. For easy going on gumbo day, we recommend roasting ducks and preparing the broth the day before.
This colorful gumbo, which features a medley of vegetables, including lima beans, yellow corn, potato, and mushrooms, puts a hearty twist on the standard. Despite its strong showing of good-for-you ingredients, this recipe is not quite health food. And that’s because it’s studded with crisp bacon, which mingles beautifully with buttery scallops for a heavenly surf-and-turf pairing.
Heavy on shellfish and light on oil (you’ll roast flour for an hour and 15 minutes instead of combining it with oil and stirring to make the roux), this healthier take on gumbo is a party favorite. With fresh shrimp, lump crabmeat, crawfish, and fresh oysters, it’s a seafood lover’s meal (and just a little bit easier on the diet, too).