According to Slade Rushing of New Orleans's revamped Brennan's, the secret to a great gumbo is perfecting the roux. Here, a step-by-step guide on how to do it at home.
“There are a lot of bad gumbos out there because people are afraid to take the roux where it needs to go,” says Slade Rushing about the classic base of flour and fat. Where it needs to go is from a pale beige to a mahogany brown. Rushing, the chef at New Orleans’s revamped Brennan’s, says the only way to achieve roux perfection is to whisk the flour and oil constantly, over moderately low heat, for 40 minutes, until the mixture turns dark and toasty. Then, he says, prepare the gumbo with whatever you like—sausage, seafood and game are all great. His seafood version is filled with lump crabmeat, oysters and shrimp, all in a spectacular crab stock.
Here, Slade Rushing's guide to the perfect Seafood Gumbo:
1. Make the Crab Stock
In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients except the crabs and bring to a boil. Add the crabs and simmer briskly over moderate heat for 1 hour, skimming as necessary. Strain the stock into a pot. You should have about 12 cups; add water if necessary, and reserve any extra stock for another use. Discard the crabs.
2. Make the Roux
Heat the oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. When the oil is hot, add the flour and whisk over moderately low heat until it is thoroughly incorporated.
3. Whish the Roux
Cook the roux, whisking constantly; it will turn light brown after about 15 minutes.
4. Finish the roux
The roux is done when it is a deep, dark mahogany color and has a toasty aroma.
Related: Shrimp-and-Crab Gumbo
5. Make the Gumbo
Stir in the andouille, onion, celery, red and green bell peppers, garlic and okra and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, filé powder, Creole seasoning, thyme, bay leaf, salt and the 12 cups of crab stock. Simmer over moderate heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Finish the Gumbo
Stir in the crabmeat, shrimp, oysters and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce and cook until the shrimp are white throughout, about 3 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Ladle the gumbo into bowls and top with rice. Garnish with scallions; serve with hot sauce.
For more details and instructions, get the full version of Slade Rushing's Seafood Gumbo Recipe.