While I enjoy a wide variety of ethnic foods, creole cuisine is not something I normally find myself cooking or ordering in a restaurant. I have not had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans nor do I remember ever having had gumbo let alone a good gumbo before. So I was definitely in uncharted waters this Saturday. That wasn't the only issue. There was also the roux. The roux for a gumbo can be a bit tricky.
It starts out like all roux, with fat and flour. In this case, unsalted butter. The directions seem simple enough: In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, stirring slowly and constantly, and cook to a medium-brown roux, about 30 minutes. Check out that last part. 30 minutes of stirring so your roux doesn't burn. No wandering off to see if the dog is barking at something important or just another squirrel mocking him from the tree outside. No checking your email for the latest Groupon coupon. You're on Roux Duty because your Gumbo depends on it! Once you get that done, it's all smooth sailing from there.
I even had time to make Virginia's $20,000 Rice Pilaf. How was the gumbo? Well it was certainly warm and comforting, thick with crab and shrimp. Just a bit of spice with the addition of the hot sauce at the end for my mild mannered tongue. The filé powder was another new experience for me. I love okra so I was curious how a little bit of dried and ground sassafras leaves were going to thicken up this stew in place of the okra but it certainly did and added a wonderful new flavor as well.
So the next time the weather prognosticators are predicting a major snow dump, instead of stocking up on milk and toilet paper at the grocery store before it hits, get the makings of Mama's Seafood Gumbo and spend that snowstorm productively practicing your roux making skills and warming up your loved ones with some spicy seafood goodness.