Gumbo Recipe: first you make a roux

gumbo, mardi gras traditional gumbo, fat tuesdayYesterday was my first attempt at making a traditional, authentic Gumbo. I acquired the recipe from Alison Heller, our Cape May County Regional Editor. It was her family’s secret (or not so) recipe which her mother learned from her years living in New Orleans while being pregnant with Alison.  She didn’t have a picture to go with the recipe because as she put it “I haven’t mastered the art of making Roux.”

Well, folks, neither have I, but I was determined to figure it out. Yesterday’s rainy weather made it the perfect day to spend in the kitchen and I decided it was time I tried my hand at making Gumbo. I had heard how difficult it was to make a traditional roux (equal parts fat (oil or butter) and flour) whisked constantly until a “copper penny” color. How hard can that be, right? Heck, I’ve made Bechamel sauce a million times. It couldn’t be that much harder.

I was in for a Roux’d awaking, my friends. As you can see, I started out with the equal parts oil and flour in the red saute pan. After about a half hour of whisking, the mixture started smelling like burnt popcorn and it tasted pretty bad, so I broke out another pan and tried the butter alternative. It started out thickening up nicely, but I still whisked that mixture for over an hour and I don’t think it ever came to the consistency it was supposed to.  (See Chef Paul’s video below. I wish I had thought of searching for some video help before I started this project.)

The end result may not have been a perfect roux, but the resulting Gumbo is delicious. Give yourself plenty of time for this recipe. Fat Tuesday is tomorrow. If you’re lucky enough to be spending the day at home, Ooooh Eeeee, dat some fine Gumbo der.

Roux Mixture:

¾ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup all-purpose flour

4 celery stalks, chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped and seeded

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

3 TB butter

½ lb fresh okra, sliced or 1 (10 oz) package frozen okra, sliced


1 meaty roaster chicken

4 quarts chicken stock

2 cups water

½ cup Worchester sauce

18 dashes Tabasco sauce

½ cup ketchup

2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 (16 oz.) can diced tomatoes

½ – 1 lb cooked Andouille sausage, sliced

1 bay leaf

1/4 tspa each -dried thyme, dried rosemary, and red pepper flakes

1 tsp molasses

Juice of ½ lemon (optional)

1 cup cooked white rice per serving


In a large stockpot add the roaster chicken and cover with enough cold water to generously cover chicken. Add 3 generous pinches of salt.

Over medium heat bring the chicken to a gentle boil; turn down the heat to low and simmer 2 ½ hours or until the chicken falls of the bone.

Let cool for ½ hour. Place the chicken on a cookie sheet and remove all the meat. Strain and reserve the broth to use for the gumbo recipe.

In a separate stock pot, combine oil and flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until roux is the color of a copper penny. This could take 1- 1 ½ hours. Do not let the roux burn.

Stir in the celery, onion, green pepper, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a skillet, cook okra in butter until lightly browned. Add to roux mixture and cook for 5 minutes.

Add chicken broth, water, Worcestershire, Tabasco, ketchup, tomato, sausage, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes to roux mixture. Simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Thirty minutes before serving add diced chicken, molasses, and lemon juice. At this point, seafood could also be added.

Pack cooked rice into a measuring cup and turn over in individual soup plates to form an island of rice. Ladle gumbo around rice mound.

Since the preparation time is long, consider making the roux mixture and cooked chicken one day and completing the gumbo the following day.

It is well worth the effort and freezes well. Make sure the gumbo is completely cooled in the refrigerator before placing into the freezer.

Watch Chef Paul Prepare a Roux.