Sandi is blogging from the WhistleStop Cafe kitchen. It's all about good home cooking; food, family and fun. Thousands of posts . . .

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Roux- not rough!

Gumbo is a great southern meal. Perfect on a chilly Saturday afternoon watching the big football games. We usually make a big pot while at the beach, where the sea food is freshest.
Gumbo is not without controversy though! Some people like their gumbo with okra and tomatoes; just as many like their's minus the slime. (Ok, So I am partial) One time we actually had a family gumbo cook off to see who made the best pot. My brother-in-law grew up working on shrimping boats out of the gulf coast and likes the okra and tomato style. I learned Gumboism from a family of Creole Louisiana cooks, I will admit my gumbo is not as good as Master Fredd's...But I'm still trying!
The first step in making a good pot of gumbo is a thick roux base-, which is just browned flour and oil. It is about a 1:1 ratio, "a pinch mo o' dis a pinch mo o' dat." The browning gives the roux its flavor.
The secret to a good roux is using a heavy iron skillet that has been seasoned. Using a small amount of oil, brown the flour. Add oil until the consistency is like cake batter, and the color is coffee brown. A medium dark roux will take about 15 minutes of continuous stirring...and I do mean no stopping...just let the phone ring if your roux is at risk! A good roux has a smokey, nutty flavor and is used as a base in most Cajun cooking.
Try it…it may take more than one try to get it right. If you see black specks it has burned, start again. All you have is oil and flour. But don’t try tasting it…remember-it’s only flour and oil!
If you can’t quite master the roux…there are ‘cheaters’ available. Look in the Southern Foods section. There are powder bases made from several companies, a file powder that can be added in the very end to thicken a watery soup, and there is also a roux in a jar that is really great (if you can find it!).
Y’all enjoy!

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