Point of View: Louisana Cooking

Gumbo Recipe

First you make a Roux. (If it wasn’t for these 5 words there could be no Cajun cooking!) To do this, you take two tablespoons of sifted flour and about two tablespoons of oil. This can be butter, shortening, bacon drippings or olive oil. What kind really doesn’t matter. It helps a lot if you have a pan that will heat uniformly. Heat the oil and add the flour. Then the fun begins. You have to stir this mixture constantly until it turns dark brown, but you can’t let it burn. The slightest hint of burning will carry the taste over to the gumbo and give it a burnt taste. This roux will also make good gravy and sauce and you can make more to save for other uses if you are careful. This step may take 45 minutes to an hour and you can’t hurry it. If you are in a hurry, just use it when it’s lighter; don’t try to make it brown faster.

Now for the Gumbo. The Junior League of Baton Rouge claim that the word comes from the Congo word "quingombo" which means okra. Who really knows? Anyway for thickening the final product you can use okra or file. The important thing to remember is that with okra you cook it along with the other ingredients and with file you add it after it is done. File, which is powdered sassafras leaves, will not easily combine with the liquid. I take a few drops of water, add the file and stir until it absorbs the liquid. Then add a small amount of warm water and mix. Do not put it in while the gumbo is still boiling. If you do it will end up being very stringy and ruins it for eating.

3 quarts water
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
½ bell pepper
1½ teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons oil
½ pound of shrimp.
Cut up chicken (use the amount needed for the number of people you are serving)
½ pound of link sausage (I use Polish sausage, but if you want to be a purist use andouille which is popular in Louisiana)

Let vegetables simmer in water until they fall apart. Mash them up, discarding any skins or parts that will not become pulp. Return this pulp to water. Combine the roux, add salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and brown in hot oil. Add to pulp and water. Cook slowly for 1 ¾ hours. Add sausage (assuming it is already cooked sausage. Put it in earlier if it is not approved for eating without cooking), cook 10 minutes and add shrimp. Cook until shrimp are done, about 5-7 minutes.

About 15 minutes before the gumbo is done start cooking rice in another pot.

Add file after you take the gumbo off the heat and you are sure it is no longer boiling. Serve in large flat bowls over mounds of rice. This will serve from 4 to 6 people. More if there is other food.

Variations: No need to put in the three meats. I have found that they complement each other and work out OK.

You can use oysters and shrimp. If you use oysters you won’t need as much water. They bring quite a bit of their own.

You can use wine for up to 1/3 of the liquid. Adjust for your taste and type of wine.

Use seasoning to your taste. You can add hot sauce, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce or anything you usually use in soup or for seasoning. Good Luck.

Please email dan@senatordan.com if you would like other Cajun recipes.