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Minor Gripe

2019-12-30 -- New Years Gumbo Recipe

Chris Ertel

Every year I do a huge gumbo cookout (8 gallons) with friends for NYE. I figured I’d record the recipe for posterity:

Gumbo ingredients

No shellfish because I don’t want to deal with those allergies at my parties, but otherwise shrimp and crab make for some good eating.

General workflow

  1. Add liquid ingredients to big pot over open flame. Start cooking.
  2. Once it gets pretty hot, set aside a small pot of the broth next to the roux.
  3. Add meat ingredients to big pot.
  4. Make a roux with the butter and flour (see tips section). You’ll want it “two shades darker’n a paper bag” as my Mom would say.
  5. Add celery and garlic to roux on the stove as it’s in the last stages of browning.
  6. Slowly add and stir in broth to the roux, moving it around faster and faster as you thin it out. Raw roux will clump when you add it, so this step is essential to get it to a usable point.
  7. Slwoly pour roux into the pot while stirring the main batch. Goal is to approximate a Cajun CSTR.
  8. Add bay leaves, okra, and anything else you have around to the pot.
  9. Drink your beer or beverage and wait.
  10. Keep drinking. Greet guests.
  11. No seriously this takes a while, even at just below boiling.
  12. Taste the gumbo, season if you want to.
  13. When you’re happy with it, serve over rice and offer Tobasco sauce.


Serving: Double-bowls, lots of rice (get this from a Chinese place or anywhere that will let you order a flat of rice…it’s just a pain in the neck otherwise). You’re gonna have leftovers, package them and freeze them. I kept two friends fed for a month off of NYE leftoverse this way. Solid blocks of gumbo ice.

Cooking the roux: Be careful about using cast-iron. It’s really good, but the heat retention can screw up your cooking time if you aren’t careful. If you see it start to clump up and solidify (I call this “blowing the roux”), feed it broth and drop the heat. You’re gonna screw up your roux the first time or two, so have spare flour and butter. Generally, melt the butter first and slowly sprinkle in flour and work it around under low heat. My friend Michelle showed me I could be a lot harsher on the roux and get away with it, but starting out be gentle. Ligther (blonde) rouxs are fine but won’t have the same rich flavor as the dark roux. If you blow the roux, you can try to save it by adding a bunch of broth and whisking the life out of it, but be ready to start over.

Pay attention to order of ingredients: The broth is basically clean until you add the raw meat–past that point, you want to be careful about guaranteeing enough cooking time.

Large pot warning: If like me you’re using a big 8-galloon commercial pot on a turkey fryer flame, you gotta watch out for the fact that it’s a) an open flame and b) a giant pot of boiling water. Be careful. If the broth gets too high, feel free to drain some liquid and dispose of it–just leave the solid bits in.

For vegan friends: Substitute vegetable oil for butter, and skip the meat in favor of chard, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage, spinach, and other leafy stuff. This is an adaptation of a Lent favorite Gumbo z’herbes

Tags: cooking recipe

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