For serious party people, the celebration of carnival can stretch from the twelfth night after Christmas to the sober dawning of Ash Wednesday--with its rollicking highpoint on Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras. What fuels all those days and nights of parading, dancing, and carousing? In New Orleans, it's gumbo.
Here is what the crew at Allrecipes.com would love to find in their gumbo pots.
Top Tips for Gumbo Goodness
Great gumbo starts with great stock. Seafood Gumbo Stock adds depth to any seafood-based gumbo recipe. You can also begin with beef stock, chicken stock and vegetable stock.
Do the Roux
The pot thickens when fat meets flour. Cooked together into a roux, this preparation is almost always a basic building block for traditional gumbo.
Okra or Filé?
Okra (a green pod-like vegetable) and filé powder (ground sassafras leaves--pronounced FEE-lay) are often used to flavor and thicken gumbo, but rarely are they tossed into the same pot.
Okra (fresh or frozen) has the unfortunate reputation of turning slimy when cooked. The solution? Stew it for at least 45 minutes to correct the texture.
Filé powder should be added only after taking gumbo off the heat; cooking filé, even for a short time, gives gumbo a stringy texture and an "off" taste. For best results, let everyone stir a pinch of filé powder into individual servings instead of adding it to the whole pot--especially if you plan to reheat leftovers.