This Sunday evening sees the renewal of the Carbetbag bowl, as the Colts, former Charm City NFL franchisees, return home to face the Ravens, who stepped out on the long-suffering fans of Cleveland, where they were known as the Browns, but were required to leave their colors and nickname in Cleveland for the new Browns. Got that?
Brian Billick coaches the Ravens, and could be seen last week blowing kisses to Rodney Harrison after the Patriots safety snared an interception during the Patriots' Monday Night victory and drew the Ravens' coach's attention to the play he had just made. So some sort of lip-smackingly delicious soup seems warranted. Peyton Manning, of New Orleans, will also be participating in this contest and is likely to have an impact on the outcome.
The game is in Baltimore, which is in Maryland. As Thomas Cecil pointed out back in 1630, in Maryland, "The Sea, the Bayes of Chesopeack, and Delaware, and generally all the Rivers, doe abound with Fish of severall sorts; for many of them we have no English names: There are Whales, Sturgeons very large and good, and in great aboundance; Grampuses, Porpuses, Mullets, Ttruts, Soules, Place, Mackerell, Perch, Crabs, Oysters, Cockles, and Mussles."
Billick. Manning. Cecil. The circumstances warrant a crab gumbo. Back in October, we saw a chicken-based no-okra gumbo for Saints-Seahawks. This time, consider a crab and okra gumbo, like this one, adapted from Gourmet.
Crab-and-Okra Gumbo for Brian 'Smoochy' Billick
- 12 live small hard-shelled crabs or 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 rounded tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 pound okra, rinsed, stemmed and chopped into rounds
- 1/2 cup diced tasso, or country ham
- 14- to 16-ounce can tomatoes, including the juice
- 1 diced green bell pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 thyme sprig
- 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
- Cayenne, to taste
- 1 tablespoon filé powder (usually available with spices at good supermarkets)
- Cooked white rice
Blanch the crabs in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain them, and let them cool until they can be handled. Discard the top shells, the aprons, the gills, the sand sacs, and the mouths and reserve the crabs. (If you ask nicely, sometimes a fishmonger will do this for you.)
In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over moderately low heat, add the flour, and cook the roux, stirring constantly, for 30 minutes, or until it is slightly darker than a paper bag. Do not neglect the roux, or it will burn, and you will have to clean the pan thoroughly and start again.
Stir in the onion and cook the mixture, stirring, until the onion begins to soften. Add the okra; cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the okra slightly softens.
In a kettle, bring 8 cups water to a boil, add the roux mixture, the ham, the tomatoes with the juice, the bell pepper, the garlic paste, the bay leaves, the thyme, and the celery leaves, and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 50 minutes. Stir in the crabs or crabmeat; simmer the gumbo for 5 minutes.