Secrets to a Great Gumbo

Having been raised in Louisiana, I have attended numerous gumbo contests and experimented with many gumbo recipes in my life being from Louisiana.

When I think of gumbo, I can’t help but remember my grandmother. She was a plump and soft lady with many battle scars including those that happen with six children, the Great Depression, two World Wars, losing a son to Vietnam, and watching in horror the pain that war can deliver upon a country. Her father was a proud man, from what she had told me, and he had made his way in the community through his love of food and cooking. He passed down his recipes to my grandmother.

My grandmother, before she passed, taught me everything she knew about many Cajun staples and cultural dishes. We always had a special bond and she brought me into what she called her “Magnolia Kitchen” to show me the tricks of the trade and to get me interested in food preparation. When she was younger, she ran a restaurant filled with amazing aromas and happy customers always smiling and thanking her for her good food and hospitality.

I loved visiting her after school and getting samples of the famous dishes that she created from scratch. On the weekends, I was allowed to go to the restaurant to help her prep the vegetables and parsley for her best gumbo. I have tried to imitate this amazing dish, but fail tragically every time. I look forward to the gumbo fairs every summer when people bring out their best ideas and share it with the public. I have done this for the last five years, but have not yet won a medal.

After years of experimentation I have developed a masterpiece called Shrimp-Tasso-Andouille Sausage Gumbo. The secret is smoking your meat. This rich flavor is the way to assure a delicious gumbo. Fresh locally grown vegetables, perfectly cooked rice and a slow simmer assuring that the broth thickens are also necessities. Here are the ingredients for this amazing recipe: shrimp, sausage, ham, green onions, bell peppers, red peppers, celery, garlic, chicken broth, oil, flour, thyme, red and black pepper, parsley, rice and file powder.

First, chop up your vegetables and cut your meat into bite size pieces. You want to do this to make each spoonful a delight to savor and be a little less messy. Having big pieces of meat hanging off the spoon is a real turnoff. Then, heat your oil and whisk in the flour slowly. This is going to be a thickening agent for your stew. Next add in the vegetables and soften them in the oil adding seasoning to flavor. Add your broth slowly and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and stir. This will continue to thicken as the liquid boils off. Cover the pot and drink a beer, checking your masterpiece from time to time. When everything is cooked through and tender, pour over rice, garnish and serve. It will impress everyone as they come back for seconds.