Gumbo is king in
Louisiana. Heartwarming and flavorful, a gumbo can cure most Louisiana
ailments like hunger-a-tosis, cold-to-the-bone-eolus and alcohol
excessaria. Gumbo (Louisiana Love) is the dish the
soul soaks up, and remember, Sunday is always "Gumbo Day"! Cold
weather is called "Gumbo Weather" in South Louisiana but
wait! Click here...
Making traditional Gumbo is
not for you "fast food" cooks. This dish can take two or more hours.
Most of the time is dependent upon making the roux. The more practice you
get the faster you'll make them. If you don't LOVE to cook don't even mess
with this one! Instead, go to mama's and get yourself a bowl! You can
cheat and get pre-packaged gumbo mixes of which many are pretty
Besides the roux, the gumbo stock is the base for
the great flavor. Read about
The roux is the base of texture and flavor for the gumbo. It takes
practice so if you burn a few don't quit, just start over. We've all
burned our share of rouxs. A roux takes your undivided attention. If you
try to do other things while cooking a roux you'll likely burn it.
I use peanut oil because it has a higher smoke point and it lends a
little nutty flavor. Vegetable oil, lard, bacon grease and butter are all fine
but you'll have to learn to adjust the fire differently for each. Mixtures
of these oils are possible too.
A good roux (most flavorful) is almost a chocolate color. There are other roux
colors (lighter) but they are for other specific dishes. We're looking for
the dark roux for a gumbo.
If you are a beginner start with equal parts of oil and all purpose
flour. When you get a little experience under your belt you can reduce the
oil, it makes for faster browning. In a sauce pan, pot, Dutch Oven (my
choice) or whatever, add the oil and let it heat for a minute on a medium
fire. Lower the fire a bit, add the flour and begin stirring with a
spatula. Let it cook for 10 seconds then stir again. When your fire is
right you'll see the flour brown in slightly darker shades as you stir. If
you see a big difference in color your fire is too high. As the roux gets
darker you need to lower the fire a little, darker - lower, darker -
lower, and so on. Experience will make you better at this.
You can cheat on this! (Click
Once you think the roux is the right color throw in the onions and stir for a
few minutes. You can then turn the fire up a little and continue adding
your other vegetables. Cook this for at least 30-60 minutes.
Then add your meat and other favorite gumbo ingredients.
The gumbo must boil a few minutes to obtain the maximum thickening of
the flour (roux).
Start your gumbo early. If it sits on the stove an hour or so before
you serve it it'll be even better.
Green onions and parsley go in about 15 minutes before turning the fire
off. Thyme is an essential seasoning in gumbo!
Add file' after it's done and the fire is off.
There are a few different methods in using chicken and hens.
If you use a chicken (fryer) you can cut it up and throw it in as is.
You can cut it and pan fry it until it's lightly browned (adds more
flavor) and toss it in. You can boil and de-bone it. You can even de-bone
it, pan fry it then throw it in.
A hen is tougher (it's an older chicken and has more experience running
from gumbo cooks!) and will take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to get tender
in boiling water. I usually boil and de-bone it. You can cook it in the
gumbo but then you have small bones to contend with. You say, well I have
bones in the fryer! Yes, but to get the thicker pieces of the hen tender
you wind up over cooking the thinner and bonier parts and they will fall
apart first, bingo, small bones everywhere.
If you're going to make a gumbo using smoked sausage you have a
few choices on how to treat the sausage depending upon how much meat you
want in the gumbo. Smoked sausage can overpower a gumbo.
If you just want it to season the gumbo and don't care about the amount
of meat you are adding cut half of a link into 3/4" pieces and throw
it in the gumbo. Let it cook for about 20 minutes and taste it. If you
want more sausage flavor add more, cook for a few minutes then taste.
The other method is to cut the sausage into the sized pieces you want
and put it into a pot of boiling water for about 20 minutes. Here is where
you have the most control of the sausage flavor. In boiling the sausage
you extract much of the flavor into the water. You then strain the water
and add the sausage to
the gumbo and taste it. If you want more sausage flavor add some of the
sausage water. This method allows you to put more sausage meat into your
gumbo and not overpower it with the sausage flavor. You will also get any
excess oil out of it.
I like fresh sausage in my gumbos. You usually don't need the "boil
first" method here because the "grease and heavy flavor factor" is not as prevalent.
If you can get Chaurice (creole sausage) it's the best.
Follow the recipe when using Andouille as it has very little
grease in it.
I sometimes throw in a cup of fresh, large cut (1/2") okra about
30 minutes before serving. A true okra gumbo actually doesn't
use a roux. The okra is lightly browned and after all is said and done you have a
thick gumbo with a good color and magnificent taste. Get ready to spend
some time at the stove on this one, but man, it's worth the wait!
Shrimp, the large ones, will get tough if you cook them too long. Throw
them in about 15 minutes before the fire is shut off. Be sure the gumbo is
boiling at a slow roll. Adding a small handful of dried shrimp is an old
All seafood should cook at least 5 minutes at a slow rolling boil,
whole fresh crabs; at least ten minutes.
Pre-Boiled, eggs make a nice addition.
Add a little stock to the water you're going to cook the rice in.
Potato salad is a must with gumbo.
French bread won't hurt either, especially lightly toasted with olive
oil and garlic.