Michigan Shrimp Gumbo a la Eric Villegas

By Paula McIntyre

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chef Eric Villegas shared this delicious recipe at the Epicurean Classic earlier this month. Demonstrating his mantra to think globally, but buy and eat locally, Eric added Michigan shrimp, smoked whitefish and a dash of "Lake Effect" for his own Michigan take on gumbo. Hearty and packed with flavor, it'd make a great meal for a cool fall evening.

"Take a recipe, wherever it's from, and take it apart," Eric advised his audience, with the same enthusiam he brings to his weekly PBS show Fork in the Road. "Study the ingredients and ask 'what can I substitute from Michigan, from my local region?'" To demonstrate, he replaced the standard gumbo ingredient of crab with smoked whitefish, which when flaked has a similar texture. A dash of Clancy's Fancy's Hot Sauce (from Ann Arbor) gives a kick, and shrimp from a shrimp farm in Okemos (that Eric raved about!) is the star ingredient.

With the hint of cooler fall weather in the air, my thoughts turn to soup. Below are the recipes for Eric's gumbo and his Lake Effect seasoning. (What a great name!) Any soups you recommend?

Michigan White Shrimp & Smoked Whitefish "Gumbo"


3/4 cup soybean oil
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups red onions, chopped
1 cup bell peppers, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup roasted garlic puree
1 tablespoon sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon Lake Effect seasoning", or to taste, see recipe below
1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo chili powder, or cayenne, or to taste
5 fresh bay leaves
1 1/2 quarts shrimp stock
2 pounds Michigan white shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflyed
1 pound smoked whitefish
1/2 cup chopped green onions, reserve a few tablespoons for service
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, reserve a few tablespoons for service
1/4 cup filé powder/gumbo filé, to taste
1/2 cup long grain white rice, cooked
1/2 cup Great Lakes wild rice, cooked


For the roux

In a large heavy cast iron pot, heat the oil or medium high heat. When the oil is hot, vigorously whisk in all of the flour. The mixture will eventually smooth out as you whisk and when it reaches the consistency of wet sand it's best to switch from the whisk to a wooden spoon. Slowly continue stirring the roux reaching all over the bottom and corners of the pan. Stir the mixture constantly for 25 to 30 minutes, to achieve a rich dark brown roux.

For the gumbo

Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, roasted garlic puree, salt, lake effect seasoning, cayenne, and bay leaves to the roux. Cook for 12 to 13 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are wilted.

Add the stock and mix to blend with the roux. Simmer for 1 hour to 1 and a half hours, stirring occasionally and being careful to skim off the foam that will come to the surface.

For serving

Add the shrimp, smoked whitefish, green onions and parsley and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until the smoked fish is warmed and the shrimp is just cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Ladle the gumbo in a shallow dishes. Place a heaping portion of each of the warmed rices in the center of the gumbo. Sprinkle the reserved green onions and parsley over top and serve with the side of file powder.

Serve immediately.

Lake Effect Seasoning

2 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons smoked sea salt or plain sea salt
2 tablespoons roasted garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon aji pepper powder, or cayenne
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon maple sugar

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.

Lake Effect is an all purpose seasoning blend that heightens the flavors of seafood, poultry, meats and vegetables with the punch of Bolivian chili peppers that finishes with the sweet caress of Michigan maple sugar.

Filed under RecipesSoups & Stews


Mary Ann

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I've recently enjoyed the tomato soup at "Old Mission Tavern" filled with chunks of fresh ripe tomatoes.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

The tomato vegetable soup that Meadowlark folks share in the newletter last week was very good too. I did add roasted garlic that was a nice addition.

Late-Season Tomato-Vegetable Soup
2 TBL olive oil
6 little or 4 bigger carrots, sliced into rounds (1 Cup)
1 small red or orange sweet pepper, diced
2 TBL chopped cilantro
sea salt and pepper
3 leeks, finely sliced and washed
2 garlic cloves, minced (I also added about 2 TBL of roasted garlic near the end of cooking)
2 pounds ripe tomatoes (I also added 3 medium tomatoes in chunks near the end of cooking)

Warm half olive oil in soup pot over medium-low. Add leeks, carrots, sweet pepper, garlic and cilantro. Stir and cook 1 minute, add 1 cup water and cover pot. Stew over low heat. Plunge tomatoes into boiling water for 10 seconds to loosen skins. Peel them reserving skins, then slice them over a bowl. Force juice through a strainer by running a spoon through the contents. Cut the walls of the tomatoes away from the core, neatly dice. Puree or mince the cores. By now the veggies should be soft. Add tomato juice, diced tomatoes and puree and season with salt. If too thick, thin with stock or water. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes until soft. Season with fresh chopped herb. When ready to serve, heat remaining oil in skillet. Add several large pieces of tomato skin in a single layer and fry until crisp. Remove and sprinkle with salt. Serve on top of soup as garnish. Enjoy!

farlane (Andy McFarlane)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I really like butternut squash soup with a bit of habanero-based hot sauce added.

Eric would also plug Michigan-made Clancy's Fancy hot sauce for this I bet.

Ann Drury

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Another Meadowlark soup this week.

Golden Potato Leek Soup with Cheddar Toasts
1 TBL butter
3 C thinly sliced leeks 6 cups cubed, peeled yellow potatoes 2 C water
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
28 oz veggie or chix stock 2 thyme sprigs
1/3 C whipping cream
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 for toasts. For soup, melt butter in a dutch oven over medium. Add leeks, cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes, water, salt, broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. To prepare cheddar toasts, place baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes until toasted. Turn slice over, coat with a light layer of olive oil and sprinkle 1 TBL cheese over each slice. Bake until cheese melts. Remove soup from heat, discard thyme stems, partially mash potatoes. Stir in cream. Sprinkle with black pepper. Serve with toasts.