Traditionally, gumbo takes an hour or two. You have to enrich the roux, cook all of the proteins and then let everything simmer for a good, long time. But when John Besh visited the Food & Wine Test Kitchen today to chat about his upcoming book, Besh Big Easy (his first soft-cover, super-casual cookbook due out this September), he didn’t have that kind of time. But that didn’t stop him from making his mother’s incredible, richly flavored seafood gumbo in 33 minutes flat. Here, a few tips he shared while making his miraculously fast (and super-tasty) gumbo.
Don’t let the roux burn. While you want a nice, dark roux, you don’t want a burnt roux. Besh starts with super-hot canola oil, then stirs in flour (one cup of flour for every cup of oil). “Don’t take your eyes off of it,” he says. “That’s when it will burn.” When the roux reaches a milk chocolate color after about 10 minutes of constant stirring, he adds chopped onions, which give it some sweetness.
Toast the shellfish shells. After the onions, Besh adds chopped-up blue crabs to the pot and lets the shells get nice and toasted. It gives the gumbo a nutty flavor. Though he uses shellfish stock for the gumbo, he says his grandmother used to simply add water to the shells to create a quick, impromptu, in-pot stock.
Don’t forget the tequila shots. He didn’t have any tequila on him today, but Besh is known for handing out shots of tequila at his cooking demos. “Shots clear your mind and your palate,” he says.