HamGate: Slow Cooker Gumbo

January 5, 2015


Happy New Year and hello from the Ham Matterhorn! We are plugging away here, working our way down this huge ol’ mound of leftover ham and freezing our butts off in the Rocky Mountains. Seriously, folks, it’s Eskimo weather. We got 8 inches of snow on Christmas, which was super awesome for the girls but not as awesome for those who had to shovel the stuff. Then, a mere two days later, an Arctic blast of air made its way down, bringing more snow and daytime temps in the low single-digits (don’t even ask about nighttime lows. Brr.)

When that kind of weather hits, I know the soup pot and the slow cooker are going to see some serious action. Warm bowls of comforting fare are just the thing I need to get me through stormy days and icy nights. I also know that in circumstances like this, I’m going to go through an alarming quantity of hot sauce. For some reason, when the temperatures dip into Holy-Mother-of-God cold category, I crave spicy food. Oftentimes, I’ll make a curry so fiery that it would scare the bejeezus out of any normal human being, but I didn’t have the correct quantities of garlic and ginger in my house this time to take us to Curry Heaven (or Hades, depending on your tolerance for zippy food), and no WAY was I shlepping my lazy arse to the Kroger in this weather, so I had to adjust my thinking.

As luck would have it, I still had some *ahem* leftover ham in the house, and when I went rummaging through the freezer, I found a couple of stray links of andouille sausage and a bag of frozen shrimp, so I thought, “gumbo!”  In a stroke of FREAK serendipity, I had okra in the freezer, which never, ever happens, because I loathe okra in any other dish except gumbo. I just don’t keep that stuff on hand, but I’d cooked gumbo for Operation Feed Friend a few weeks ago and must have thrown an extra bag in my shopping cart back then. Yes!

Gumbo ON!

I already had a big soup pot of chili simmering on the stove, but I don’t like to eat chili on the same day I cook it. I think chili tastes so much better if you let it rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Is that weird? Probably. But that’s just the way things roll over here, so I knew that the soup pot already had a full dance card, so I was going to have to bust out the slow cooker for this one.

Many moons (and winters) ago, I’d watched a show on the Food Network called Quick Fix with Robin Miller, which I don’t think has aired on FN since, like, 2006, but anyways, Robin made a recipe for chicken gumbo in the slow cooker that I thought was intriguing. Gumbo in a slow cooker? Without all of that messy and fussy “make a roux” business? Hmmm.

I printed the recipe and made it (again, long ago) and I thought it was passable, but not quite flavorful enough. I didn’t like Robin’s gumbo enough to make it again, but since I am a hoarder of all things recipe-related, I knew I hadn’t thrown the printout away.

Sometimes hoarding is a good thing, yo.

It took some digging, but I found the recipe and decided to tinker totally mess around with it. I added Cajun seasoning, used a frozen bell pepper/onion mix because I didn’t have fresh peppers in the house, poured a bunch of hot sauce and some jalapeno in there, ditched the chicken for my leftover ham and some shrimp, added a slurry for thickening, blahblahblah.  I won’t bore you with the alterations in any more minutiae. I altered it, okay? If you’ve never made a slurry to thicken a dish (a method common in Chinese cooking) don’t worry. It’s simple. Just dissolve a small amount of cornstarch in a small amount of warm water and stir thoroughly before you add it to your dish. Bam. Done.

Since I made so many changes, I had to taste and adjust a lot as the gumbo cooked, so if you make this recipe, just use it as a rough guide and taste/alter things as your taste buds dictate. Start things out on the conservative side and spice it up as necessary.

I must say, this version of the gumbo was much improved, in my opinion. And yes, I realize that since there’s no roux action that this is not a true and genuine recipe for gumbo, so shaddap if you’re a stickler. I don’t want to hear from any purists. This is an unabashed, completely bastardized version of gumbo and it’s dead simple and pretty tasty in a pinch. It doesn’t have the dark brown appearance of an authentic gumbo (because duh, no roux) but if that’s important to you, go out in a snowstorm and buy the stuff you need to make the real deal and babysit that damn roux for half and hour. And shaddup.

But if you’re open to interpretation or feeling lazy or snowed in because it’s colder than a witch’s tit, give this recipe a go. It’ll fill ya belly quite nicely.

Slow Cooker Gumbo with Andouille, Ham and Shrimp

recipe very adapted from Robin Miller

serves 4-6


2 links andouille sausage, diced

1 (10-oz) package frozen okra, thawed

1 (12-oz) package frozen onion and mixed bell peppers, thawed

1-2 chopped jalapenos, seeds left in if you like things hot

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, such as Emeril’s Essence

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon-2+ tablespoons your favorite hot sauce (I used 2++ tablespoons of Valentina brand hot sauce)

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 cups V-8 juice (I used the spicy kind but regular V-8 is fine or you can just use tomato juice)

1 cup chopped leftover ham

1 (12-ounce) package frozen, shelled and de-veined shrimp, thawed

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water (called a “slurry)

cooked white rice

chopped fresh parsley


Put all of the ingredients except the ham, shrimp, parsley, cornstarch/water mixture and cooked rice into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2 hours. Half an hour before serving, stir in the ham, shrimp and cornstarch mixture. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes. Stir, taste for salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with white rice and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer January 5, 2015 at 8:43 am

Down here in Cajun country you can buy roux in a jar at the grocery store. We keep it on hand for gumbo cravings. I bet I could dissolve that in water and do a “real” gumbo in a crock pot. Hmmmm…..

PS My New Year’s ham was divine. We are also still eating it.


Dana Talusani January 5, 2015 at 5:03 pm


Roux in a jar? Mind. Blown. That is awesome! You Southerners are so creative!


Biz January 5, 2015 at 8:57 am

I actually use V-8 juice in my beef stew sometimes if I am out of tomato sauce – this looks delicious! You had me at 2++ tablespoons of Valentina brand hot sauce! Hugs!


elizabeth January 5, 2015 at 9:40 am

It’s cold here (not as ridiculously cold as where you are, of course) and I’m tasked with making dinner twice this week and now soup is looking more and more tempting.

I remember Robin Miller and used to think of her as the scourge of the FN–so many little plastic containers!–but I’m fairly certain that she could cook circles around some of the personalities that are currently on the air.


Dana Talusani January 5, 2015 at 5:02 pm


I never thought much of her, either, but then Guy Fieri showed up…:)


Arnebya January 5, 2015 at 10:19 am

I want my rice in a tiny little circle like that. Tell me how. Also, now I want gumbo, bastard or not. (It was 60 here yesterday. I think Mother Nature is high. The high today is 41. The high Wednesday will be 24 and snowy. Nothing like the Rocky Mountains, but I’ma need new boots.)


Dana Talusani January 5, 2015 at 12:59 pm


To make the fancy little rice dome, spoon hot cooked long grain rice into a small dish or ramekin, pack it down, and then unmold onto a plate (or in this case, a large shallow bowl). Viola!


Annie January 5, 2015 at 1:37 pm

I love the idea of V-8 in gumbo. What a great way to zest up the flavor! This sounds perfect for a cold snowy day. May have to give a hamless version a try around here soon!


Nick Carter January 7, 2015 at 3:44 am

Howdy Dana Talusani
i read your post and i see you wrote great!
all of your contents make me happy to smile with my family
Thanks for sharing!


Barbara January 7, 2015 at 5:28 am

Clever girl! Dump in all the fridge and freezer leftovers, season it to your taste and voila! You’ve got a great gumbo. Here’s hoping your ham is nearly gone. I have yet another ham recipe called Zesty Casserole. (And it’s not one you can Google and find…really old recipe.. let me know if you want it. Don’t know why I’ve never posted it.)
Feeling for you (and my own kids) with the godawful cold weather.


Dana Talusani January 7, 2015 at 7:44 am


I’d love the recipe! Thanks for offering it up–I love old recipes :)


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes January 7, 2015 at 7:22 am

Hmm V8 in Gumbo….why the hell not


Sherri January 7, 2015 at 10:43 am

It is colder than a witch’s tit here in Pitt too. Going to try this – yum.


Erica January 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm

This is very similar to what my mother calls Shrimp Creole. Just with the addition of ham. Which obviously makes things better!


michelle January 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm

I LOVE the idea of faux pho. And the name totally rocks. But if I’m gonna shop and chop I’ll stick with your slow cooker version. Maybe this weekend!


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