Gumbo: What Color is Your Roux?

gumbo roux
gumbo roux

Mine looks something like this, at least, this time…

We made gumbo the other night using a roux of 3/4 c oil and 3/4 cup flour, cooked over medium – medium-low heat for approximately 35 minutes, give or take a shot of bourbon…

The results were pleasing to the eye and provided a very nice base for the gumbo that followed. This roux and the gumbo were probably the most extemporized I’ve made. We’ve tackled gumbo on a number of occasions, but this time i felt the vibe rather than just followed a recipe. I basically did a quick thumb-through of a bunch of recipes online and in books to get a feel (again) for the genre, and then followed my nose (and eyeballs).

The ratio of flour and oil was the thing that i was least sure about. I was aiming for a dark, flavourful roux, inspired by the high-test version they serve at the Ousi Bistro on Granville Street here in Vancouver. Now Chef Darcy’s roux is as deep, dark, and dangerous as a Cajun in a swamp fight and i wasn’t trying to emulate it, but it served as inspiration and kept me stirring well into the second half-hour to embolden the flavour and deepen the colour.

I had 6 skinned chicken thighs, some local shrimp (1/2 pound maybe), 1/4 pound crab meat, some double-smoked sausage courtesy of Continental Sausage in Burnaby (maybe 1/4 pound), some mixed peppers, onion, garlic, and celery. I dusted the chicken thighs with rub and gave them a browning, then gave the sausage a quick turn or two in the leavings. I made some stock from the shrimp shells (bay leaf, celery ends, onion ends, a cinnamon stick, some pepper corns) which yielded two cups, and mixed it with two cups of chicken stock. I sauteed the veg with in the roux for 10 minutes or so at medium-high, then added my stock(s) along with another bay leaf and brought the mess up to a roil, stirring. Added in the chicken and sausage and let it rock at medium – medium-low for 30 minutes or so. Added the shrimp, the crab and a tab of tomato sauce at the end as I was a bit worried it would be too thin. It was about right when it hit the table….

We followed up the gumbo with Banana’s Foster, the recipe that Brennan’s in New Orleans both invented and made famous. I used Maker’s Mark instead of the traditional rum, and it was damn fine.

We followed the Banana’s Foster up with a couple of episodes of Treme, more red-wine, and a cab-ride home for our guests. That about where-we-at….

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