January, the month of new beginnings, resolutions….and National Soup Month! Thus, the perfect time to warm up with gumbo.
Getting to Know Gumbo
Gumbo, undoubtedly Louisiana’s most notorious and universally loved dish, goes all the way back to the turn of the 19th century. Yet to this day, the true origin of the dish remains speculative. We do know that the name gumbo is derived from a West African word for “okra”, which of course, suggests that the original concoction was made with okra. But with all its variations, you will find gumbo lies at the intersection of African, Native American, and European cultures, otherwise known today as southern cuisine!
All Mixed Up
Traditionally, gumbos have been divided into two large categories—those thickened with okra and those thickened with filé (dried and ground sassafras leaves). For many cooks today, a brown roux (flour that has been browned in oil or some other fat) is the only thickener they use. Others combine a mixture of all three. As far as thickness goes, Gumbo can be as thin as soup or as thick as gravy.
The rich savory stew typically consists of a variety of meats or seafood, such as chicken and crab or sausage and shrimp, combined with an array of vegetables and herbs.
Stanley Dry, author of The Essential Louisiana Cookbook, says there are only two hard-fast rules when it comes to gumbo: it must always contain rice, and it must always be thickened with something.
Can I Build a Gumbo Myself?
Absolutely! Aside from being downright delicious, part of gumbo’s virtue is that it’s very forgiving of the cook. In other words, measurements don’t have to be exact and ingredients may be changed to use what is on hand. Plus, you can find several commercially prepared rouxs available at the grocery store. Convenience item – check!
How We Do It
As you might imagine, we take gumbo seriously at Pearl’s Restaurant Group, so serious in fact, we use “The Holy Trinity” of all Cajun and Creole cooking: celery, bell peppers, onions, and garlic. The addition of garlic makes it “holy”. In addition, we season our special roux with 10 distinct ingredients, bringing the heart of Louisiana into each gumbo we serve. To satisfy your gumbo craving, visit: Pearl’s Crabtown for tasty chicken andouille gumbo, and Trapper’s Fishcamp & Grill and Pearl’s Oyster Bar for savory chicken, shrimp and andouille gumbo today!