Made a gumbo today. A real, honest-to-goodness gumbo like Mom, Grandma and my aunts made. This is a real South Louisiana, New Orleans gumbo; none of this new-fangled stuff that’s been popular over the last few years.
1 cup of cooking oil (any kind, you’ll skim it off anyway)
1 cup of white flour
File (pronounced fee-lay; it’s French, go figure)
Your choice of dead critter (this will be a chicken and sausage gumbo but you can use crabs (from the sea), oysters, possum or whatever)
Chop the onions and parsley so you have about 2 1/2 to 3 cups and add this to a large stew pot with some salt and pepper. (You can use dried parsley, it will taste the same if you mix up and let it set with the onions)
Mix the flour and oil in a skillet and cook until nice and dark, stirring the whole time. This is important! You are making a roux and you don’t want to burn it; this is considered bad form. Once your reach the dark color of your choice (I get as close to a deep chocolate brown as I can) dump it into the stew pot on top of the onions and parsley.
Stir the whole thing together and let the hot roux cook the onions and parsley until the sizzling has stopped.
Take a deep whiff of the resulting mess. Smell good? Good! This is the base flavor you’re aiming for.
Now add two quarts of hot water and turn the fire on low. Stir the gumbo until it’s well dissolved; if you don’t, some will stick to the bottom and burn. This is not good.
Once the gumbo has gotten to a low simmer, add your dead critter. Add sausage straight to the pot. Sometimes I’ll brown the chicken, sometimes not; depends on whether you want to skim off chicken scum later.
Cover, set the fire to simmer and let it cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. In the latter part of this stage I’m usually standing guard in the kitchen, keeping the ravenous barbarians at bay. Disgusting what gumbo will do to hungry civilized folks…
Cook a pot of rice. While doing this, turn off the heat to the gumbo and let it sit for 15 minutes. Skim off the oil and sprinkle a generous pinch of the file on top. Let sit for another 15 minutes.
Serve in individual bowls over the rice.
It’s even better the next day when the flavors have had time to blend. We freeze gobs of it for later and it’s even better.
Now, some of the family like to have it with potato salad, some like it with bread, some like it plain. Do what you like.
And y’all ain’t seen a catfight until you see my family argue over the merits of okra in gumbo. The WWF wishes it could have such rumbles…