In Louisiana, pretty much every family, cook and chef has their own version of gumbo. Rarely are two recipes alike. This is my favorite type of gumbo – one that begins by making a dark roux.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
12 oz. andouille sausage, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs. Louisiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco
1 8-oz can of tomato sauce
2 Tbsp file powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Creole seasoning
4 cups seafood, chicken or vegetable stock (homemade seafood stock is preferable)
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb. crab meat
Cooked white rice
1. Place the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, andouille and bay leaves into a large bowl and set aside for later.
2. Begin by first making a dark roux. A roux is a 50/50 mixture of flour and oil. A word of warning: Hot roux can reach 500 degrees F. BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN MAKING ROUX. If it splatters onto your skin, it’s like hot lava. Not fun. It’s not surprising it’s often called Cajun Napalm. So, I recommend using a long wooden spoon or spatula to stir the roux and using gloves to cover your hands and forearms, if possible. Heat the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottom cast-iron pot or Dutch oven. Make sure the pot is very clean first. When the oil begins to smoke, add the flour and stir, stir, stir — constantly. The roux will begin to change color, at first turning yellow and then peanut-butter color as it cooks. Keep stirring until you have a brown roux, about the color of chocolate-cake frosting.
3. Carefully, to avoid splashing the hot roux, add all of the ingredients of the bowl — onion, celery, garlic, peppers, andouille etc. Cook, over medium-high heat, for about 5 minutes, stirring the mixture until the vegetables soften some.
4. Next, add the tomato sauce, hot sauce, file powder and Creole seasoning. Stir well and cook over medium-high heat for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot so the mixture doesn’t stick.
5. Add 4 cups of stock and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat and allow the gumbo to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
6. Just before serving, bring the gumbo back to the boil. Add the shrimp and crab meat to the pot. Place a lid on the pot, remove it from the heat, and allow the seafood to poach for 10 minutes.
7. Serve with cooked white rice.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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