When I saw October 12 was National Gumbo Day I realized I needed to get my parent’s Gumbo recipe up on the stie for the occasion. Gumbo is a classic Cajun or Creole stew made with shrimp or chicken and okra.
Cajun Gumbo uses a roux, while Creole uses file (pronounced fee-lay) powder as a thickener and also tomatoes. This recipe is Cajun. If you have been to the site before, or know my family’s history, you would assume this recipe would be one of my brother’s the former New Orleans chef. But no, this one is our parent’s creation.
This was one of the original recipes on Ma’am’s old site and here’s her original introduction
Traditional Cajun Gumbo and other dishes are prepared with a roux made of flour carefully browned in butter. Even seasoned (sorry!) Cajun cooks can be baffled at times when making a roux. Plus, the butter adds unwanted fat to dishes. We’ve borrowed the browned flour substitute from Paul Prudhomme’s Fork in the Road cookbook and TV series.
She wrote that years ago and I had this post written early last week, but I had to come edit it when news came of Chef Prudhomme’s passing on Thursday October 8. He has definitely been an influence to my family’s cooking both through his cookbooks and his television shows. I know Dad used to make Blackened Steak with his Blackened Steak Magic. I even have a small amount of his Pizza and Pasta Magic Spice Blend left in the pantry right now. RIP K Paul!
Prudhomme’s browned flour recipe begins by literally browning the dry flour in a skillet to a nice toasty brown color before beginning. It takes about 10 minutes to do it properly (low and slow!) but it takes a lot of the guess work out of making the dark roux you need for Gumbo. Once that is done, you just sweat down the Holy Trinity (celery, onions and bell peppers) and chicken, if using, in another pot then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Easy Peasy!
The only caution Ma’am has for this recipe is to constantly monitor the heat when browning the flour and vegetables. When in doubt, turn the heat down a little and cook a bit longer.
This recipe is a little on the mild side as Cajun recipes go for a reason. Dad didn’t like spicy foods. So we would make things mild and then add our own hot sauce and file at the end to suit our own tastes.
Until next time, happy eating.