Everyday Gumbo

1 1/2 cups crab meat
2 pounds shrimp, in shells
3 quarts water
2 bay leaves
2 slices lemon
2 slices onion
Red and black pepper
2 pounds okra, sliced
6 tablespoons bacon grease, divided
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
2 red pepper pods, finely chopped
4 tablespoons brown roux
Reserved shrimp stock
Salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, to taste
Hot boiled rice

In a large Dutch oven boil the water with bay leaves, lemon, the 2 slices of onion, and judicious amounts of salt, pepper, cayenne and parsley. Wash shrimp and add to pot; boil for 2 minutes. Peel shrimp and return shells to the stock for later use. Set shrimp and crab meat aside.

Saut? okra slices in 3 tablespoons bacon grease in large cast iron skillet. The okra will turn darker and lose some of its stickiness as it cooks. When soft, transfer to a stew pot and add tomatoes. Stir and mix together well. Clean skillet and heat 3 tablespoons bacon grease in it. Saut? the finely chopped onion, green pepper, and red pepper pods. When soft, add these ingredients to the stew pot.

In a saucepan, warm the roux; strain and stir in 2 cups of the shrimp stock. When well-blended, add to the large stew pot with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours, adding more strained stock if needed for consistency. Adjust seasonings with the salt, pepper, thyme, and parsley. When it has simmered for at least 3 to 4 hours and the flavors have begun to blend, add the shrimp and crab meat and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serve with fresh boiled rice in soup bowls.

Serves 6 to 8.

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