The first ingredient in any gumbo is the roux: browned flour and oil that serves as the foundation for the rich stock of okra, seafood and andouille sausage.
Heat 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 15-20 minutes until it browns to a nice nutty color. Then stir in 1/4 cup chopped onion, another 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper and 1 clove of chopped garlic and continue cooking until the onion is soft.
While that's going on, measure 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped okra (frozen is fine, but thaw it first), 1 tablespoon chopped scallions, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 crumbled bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and a dash each of ground allspice, mace and cloves. Stir all of those ingredients into the pan with the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Since we're not dedicating hours to cooking down the stock, we then used an immersion blender to make a nice smooth sauce.
TOPPINGS (layered in this order):
- Very Best Pizza Crust Ever, par-baked
- A generous spread of the onion-okra sauce
- Thinly sliced andouille sausage (Do yourself a favor and don't substitute any other kinds of smoked sausages; the andouille adds such a distinctive flavor.)
- More chopped okra
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- Raw shrimp, butterflied and/or sliced in half down the middle
- Cooked chicken, chopped
Bake at 450 degrees F for about 11 minutes until the shrimp are pink. Serve topped with a splash of Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Crystal.