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Chef Dave
recommends:
The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst

 

 

Tips
from the
Chef

Replace butter with Flax Seed meal. Try a 2:1 ratio of flax to butter.

 

News and Views

Archived Article #4:

Making Gumbo

The first time I ever heard of gumbo was while I was attending chef school.  I don't believe anyone even made any, it was just discussed.  It was termed a "regional" food and that was about it.  It never really turned up again until I moved to Houston.  It turns out that this great magical elixir is clearly one of the most scrutinized and opinionated foods I've ever run across.  Like a fingerprint, no two are alike.  The interesting thing is that you can get some really bad stuff in New Orleans, where I always thought it would be great.  I personally found that out more than once.  You must also beware once you leave the south.  As a former Yankee myself, (been here longer than I lived up there and won't move back), many of 'em can't pull it off.

The first time I saw someone making it was at the old Ouisie's in '83 or '84.  I was puzzled over the fact it took several shifts for this particular cook to make the roux.  She said it had to be cooked really slowly so it wouldn't burn.  I have no memory of her finished product, but it took way to long to make.  Two or so years later we ended up hiring Bill to work nights.  Then we hired another guy also named Bill.  Out of three people on the shift, two were now named Bill.    And so it was.  Both Bills were very good cooks.  That was a big help, as each cook had the opportunity and responsibility to create their own menu items each night.  Bill #1 let it out one day that he made great gumbo.  He even said he could knock it out in a shift.  This was a sight to behold.  His gumbo was excellent and it sold out quickly any time he would make it.  He wasn't totally secretive about making it, but I never bothered him while he was doing it.  Instead I watched him make it, the kitchen was quite small and you couldn't help seeing what the others were working on. 

Since I wanted to make it myself I started reading up on it.  I never seemed to find a recipe that told the whole story, that there are two distinctly main components.  The stock is just as important as the roux, and the roux will be the dead giveaway of what separates good or bad gumbo.   Over the years I've come up with a recipe of my own that I have had many compliments on.  When June Terry's mother, who is from a small town in Louisiana, maybe Breaux Bridge, said it was great, I knew I was on to something.  I gave a lesson recently to a gentleman and we made gumbo.  It's quite a process but he loved it and had a great time.  He also had a fabulous pot of gumbo that he shared with friends who also loved it.  He also has the recipe.  There are ingredients that are not on the paper.  Love and passion cannot be purchased.   Cooking without them can be difficult without the proper time and energy to go with them.  In all I am quite happy in my craft these days and I think it's important if you want to be a good cook.  I want to thank my wife, who without her support, in many ways, this all wouldn't be happening.