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The Secret Ingredient In this Popular Dip Is A Southern Favorite

Iain Bagwell

If you love a good gumbo, you will appreciate this warm party dip.

Want to add some pizzazz to a recipe? Consider putting a pickle in it. If you can grow it you can pickle it, as evidenced by this gallery of pucker-worthy pickled garden vegetables, so think beyond the traditional relish tray and let your pickled produce be the secret ingredient in your recipes. Consider adding your pickle relish to buttermilk biscuits, pickled onions to leafy green salads, and the Southern pantry favorite, pickled okra, to this delightful Warm Gumbo Dip.

There are bound to be some gumbo purists reading this that will take offense because we call this a “gumbo” dip. When the recipe was first published, one reader went so far as to say that this dip was a fake Cajun recipe and was an insult to Cajun, African-American, and Native American cooks everywhere. Pretty strong words, but we get it. People in the South love, really love, their food, and any variation from the original is oftentimes hard to swallow. Admit it – at some point in your life you have been witness to, and maybe even a part of, a rather heated discussion over whether a REAL Southerner would ever be caught dead putting sugar in their cornbread. It is understandable why some gumbo lovers shudder at the though of a party dip recipe using the word “gumbo” in the title. So what is supposed to be in a gumbo, and what makes this dip gumbo-ish?

A true gumbo recipe has to include what is known as the Cajun trinity - onions, green peppers, and celery. The Southern Living Test Kitchen staff was very generous with these three items when including them in this recipe. A good gumbo will also include a meat or shellfish, such as ham, sausage, chicken, shrimp, or crab. We covered that, as well, with mounds of succulent Wild American shrimp. Gumbo lovers will argue about adding okra or tomatoes to gumbo; however, for some added zing, we stirred in a heaping amount of pickled okra as a secret ingredient. The addition of pickled okra in this Warm Gumbo Dip is, as one reader from New Orleans wrote, “what makes it reminiscent of gumbo, and makes the flavor so distinct and memorable.”

Gumbo enthusiasts, give this dip a try at your next party. We think you will agree that, instead of serving as an insult to Cajun cooking, every spoonful of this recipe is actually full of respect for the incredible tastes and traditions represented in a bowl of gumbo.

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