Chris Hastings is the owner and executive chef at Hot & Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama.
Birmingham is big football country and both our sons are at the University of Alabama so we do quite a bit of tailgating. Over the years we’ve made a bunch of gumbos, but this has become our go-to. The recipe has got a lot of components and you can always tweak it to suit your tastes--but the way we make it is a true, classic gumbo with okra, seafood, and meat. Often we make our own sausages, but when we don't we like to use Conecuh sausage because it has such a good smoky flavor the fat content gives the gumbo richness and flavor. It travels well, only uses one pot, and it keeps you warm and free to enjoy the company. What more could you ask for at a tailgate?
Serve with: Beer, beer, and more beer is pretty much the rule. We have a bunch of good local breweries down here. Guys at Back Forty Beer Company do some nice things--their Truck Stop honey brown ale is one of my favorites.
Pro tip: At this time of year citrus is at its very best--and a bitter salad of frisee or endives with oranges or grapefruit or kumquat with pecorino is a great contrast to the one-dimentional richness of gumbo. It brightens everything up.