Gumbo Snobs unite….

On a cold snowy day like today, my thoughts often turn to gumbo. And I am admitted gumbo snob….having eaten it in many restaurants in New Orleans..the best I’ve ever had was in a pretty little local NOLA place called The Bistro, at The Maison DeVille Hotel which heartbreakingly, closed on December 1st. Their website didn’t say why…but The Bistro soldiers on under the excellant guidance of Chef Greg Picolo. His gumbo one day at lunch was dark, complex, utterly utterly delicious. The gumbo I recently ordered from The Gumbo Shop was good, quite good really, but not great..nowhere near The Bistro’s. Not dark enough, and wildly underseasoned. Perhaps that’s so people who don’t like spicy things can enjoy this gumbo, but then, it’s not really gumbo is it? Once I added some tobasco and salt, and sauteed a little extra kielbasa and red pepper to sprinkle on the top….we  enjoyed it. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth 50 bucks, which is what it costs to overnight mail order a half gallon of gumbo. But hey, I’m not the only gumbo snob in town…I got this from Paul…
Donna, I have been making Gumbo for many years, having learned it from one of the best I have tasted even in NOLA. I have found that three ingredients are critical in achieving a real gumbo flavor. They are the ham(absolutely must be true Tasso ham) a really good Andouille sausage (NOT kielbasa as many recipes suggest as an alternate) and the roux. The ham and sausage can be found online or in a really good grocery, the roux however takes time but I have a fool proof trick. Start the roux on the stove top(with vegetable oil or lard). Use 1/3 more oil than flour and stir carefully. Once this is all hot and bubbly transfer it to your oven at 300 or 350 and check and stir every 30 minuets or so until it is dark brown and smells like popcorn. This way you can do other things and you don’t have to worry about it burning on the bottom. When its done it will settle and the extra oil can be poured off the top. Le bon temps roullet!”
Hmmmm…interesting. Now I feel bad for using Kielbasa. And for those of you who may not know…that last phrase is ubiquitous with NOLA and means, “let the good times roll”…..and I love the idea of not having to stir the roux FOR WHAT REALLY SEEMS LIKE FOR-EV-ER. And I’d love to find a place here in Baltimore that has great gumbo…not the Velveeta of gumbos…really good gumbo. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. It probably does, but I don’t know where it is. You?



3 Responses

  1. MMmm a really good Gumbo would really hit the spot today. I should have planned ahead, but it’s not so popular with the five yr old set. Instead, tonight it will be a veggie loaded tuna noodle casserole (to celebrate our daughter’s first “snowday” home with dad) and a doctored up she-crab soup, from a can, that now has transformed into a much better shrimp and crab chowder. I’ll have to make Gumbo at the restaurant this week and see if it’s any good.

  2. I spent years traveling to NO and Lafayette, LA… before leaving, I’d pack my car full with andouille and basic LA smoked sausages……. and Gumbo is all about the sausage! I make a pretty mean one and have it on the menu currently. That’s the yummy sausage I serve with the Red Beans…. I’ll be making a fresh pot tomorrow!

  3. Donna, I thought about you last evening. Did you see Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the food network. A lady from the Mesa Restaurant was in competition with Bobby Flay. They made a New Orleans Gumbo. She won but they were very close. His recipe ifs on the food network website. He put crab meat, scallops, oysters and shrimp in his along with andouille sausage. She had live crabs broken in half in hers. Hope you find a good gumbo. Loretta

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