Basic Gumbo File

posted by Mona M 04-27-100 6:48 AM

Basic Gumbo File
from River Road Recipes... The Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine

3 quarts water
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1/2 bell pepper
3 tablespoons oil or bacon drippings
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Oysters (1/2 pint and up)
Shrimp (2/3 pound and up)
1 teaspoon file

Let vegetables simmer in water until they fall apart. Mash on plate, discarding pepper skin. Return pulp to water.

Make dark roux of oil and flour, stirring constantly. Slowly stir in seasoned water, then salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook 15 minutes; then add oysters and simmer 5 more minutes.

File should be added after gumbo is removed from heat, just before serving. Allow to stand 5 minutes after stirring in file.

The roux should be thicker for an oyster gumbo than one without because of the water exuded by oysters.

How to make roux: Melt the butter, shortening or bacon drippings in a thick pot or skillet. Add the flour and stir constantly until dark brown, being careful not to burn. If there is the slightest indication of over-browning, dispose of the roux and start over. Even a slightly burned roux will ruin a savory dish.

Serves 4

A Word About Gumbos: Gumbo is an original creation and a cherished possession in South Louisiana kitchens. The word "gumbo" comes from the Congo "quingombo" which means okra. It may be made with okra or with file as a thickening agent. File is the powdered sassafras leaf made long ago by the Choctaw Indians. Whereas okra is cooked with the gumbo, file is added AFTER the gumbo is removed from the heat. Never add file while gumbo is cooking because boiling after the file is added tends to make the gumbo stringy and unfit for use. The thickness of the gumbo depends on the amount of water. Gumbo is best served over mounds of hot rice in a large flat soup bowl.

Copyright 1959 The Junior League of Baton Rouge, Inc. All rights reserved.

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