Throughout my book, I’ve had a great deal to say about making the roux that’s the base of our gumbo — and the other steps as well — but I’ll recap it here so that it can be useful every time you start to make our signature dish. Yes, there are other thickeners besides flour that folks use for making their roux, but to my palate, only a flour-based roux yields that traditional flavor. As for the fats in a roux, just about anything works. I love rendered duck fat, chicken fat, or lard, but canola oil works nearly as well.
I always heat the oil first and whisk the flour into the hot oil. Not only does this speed up the process; it yields that deep, dark chocolate-colored gumbo I love. I always add the onions first to the dark roux, holding back the rest of the vegetables until the onion caramelizes. Otherwise, the water in the vegetables will keep the onion from browning and releasing its sweet juices.
I like to add filé powder to the gumbo, and then pass it at the table, too. Serve the gumbo hot with Louisiana rice; serve potato salad on the side, if you like.
Adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh.
Click here to see A Big Easy Dinner Menu.