I am going to give you my gumbo recipe. I learned to cook from my mother and grandmother who were born and raised in New Orleans and really knew how to cook. Most of the time, you could not get them to write down their recipes because they used a “pinch” of this and “just enough of that” and “two fingers of water” and so on. This recipe is a combination of both of their recipes which I have added to over the years. My brother cooks his gumbo a little different than mine and like all good cooks; he will tell you his is better.
You need a large pot. I like to use Magnalite brand pots which are what my mother always used for everything. I have cooked gumbo in other types of pots and it still tastes good. The magic of any good Creole dish is the “roux”. This is flour which is browned to a rich mahogany color. A lot of people try making the roux while they are cooking the vegetables in the bacon grease. My mother taught me to brown the flour first and then you can add it as you cook your gumbo. The advantage is you don’t have to worry about burning all your seasonings and you don’t have to watch everything as closely.
She would take a five pound bag of flour and brown it in a flat pan in the oven. This is only good for people who do a lot of cooking and even I don’t cook that much. I take a large Teflon frying pan and put in a cup or two of flour and under a medium to high heat slowly brown the flour. I constantly stir the four with a spoon or spatula and it will brown quite nicely in a matter of ten minutes or less. You can get it as brown as you want and if it burns, you have not wasted all your seasoning. Actually there are a lot of gravy and roux mixes on the market now and they work quite well as a roux so you can substitute that if you like. A brand named Tony Chacherie’s is a good choice. I buy a large container of gravy mix at Sam’s when I am feeling lazy. This would not meet with my mother or grandmother’s approval however.
Here is the recipe and Bon Apetit. Creole Gumbo
Recipe shared by Edgar M. Dapremont Jr.
1c. Chopped celery 1 large onion, chopped 1 large green bell pepper, chopped 4 tsp. File (if you can’t get this, it will still be a very good gumbo) 2 toes minced or chopped garlic 1 cup of all purpose flour 3/4 cup bacon grease 1 lb. Andouille sausage (a Cajun sausage) – if you can’t get this use a good smoked sausage 1 tbsp. Sugar 1/8 cc Tabasco 1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s seasoning 3 Qt. Water 6 beef bouillon cubes 4 bay leaves 1/2 tsp. Dried leaf thyme 1(14 1/2-oz.) can stewed tomatoes 1 small can tomato sauce 2 (10oz.) Frozen cut okra, thawed 2 tblsp. White vinegar 1 or 2 lbs. of lump crabmeat 3 lbs. shrimp 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
ROUX: Add flour to 3/4 cup melted bacon grease in large heavy skillet and stir well to blend. Cook this over low medium heat stirring constantly until it becomes a dark mahogany rich brown color. This will take 20 to 30 minutes and it must be watched continuously and you must continue to stir until finished or flour will burn.
Alternate method of preparing Roux: I take the flour and brown it on a high fire while stirring constantly until it is a rich brown. I make the roux by then adding the brown flour to the bacon grease and then I just add the processed vegetables. I use brown flour a lot in gravies and soups so I have a big container of brown flour always available. (My mother browns 5 lbs. of flour in advance in her oven and then keeps it in the freezer for whenever she needs it. Both methods of making a roux work well but you just have to make sure it is good and rich brown.
VEGETABLES: Process the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Add sausage and the processed ingredients to the roux and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly to saute the vegetables. Set this aside.
BOIL WATER: While preparing the roux and vegetables start the 3 quarts water to boiling in a large Dutch oven or Gumbo pot at least 6 Qt. Size. Add beef bouillon to boiling water to create a beef broth. Combine roux mixture to boiling broth and stir. Reduce heat and add bay leaves, thyme, tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, salt, Tony’s seasoning, and Tabasco to boiling mixture. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour. At the 45 minute mark, add 2 teaspoons file to gumbo and stir.
OKRA: While the gumbo is cooking, cook the okra in a large frying pan with the 2-tablespoon of vinegar for about 15 or 20 minutes. Drain the fat off the okra and set aside.
CRABMEAT, SHRIMP, OKRA: After the gumbo has been cooking for about 1 hour, add crabmeat, shrimp, okra, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for about 45 minutes more after adding these last ingredients. At the end add 2 more teaspoons of file.
Serve over rice.
Comments from Edgar: The gumbo can be frozen or refrigerated and many people like it better the next day. Bon Apetit!