Without a roux, you can’t make a gumbo. Period. End of story. And it’s not an *authentic* gumbo unless it starts with a classic Louisiana roux. That’s what I’ve been told, anyway.
Butter is used in the more classical French style, but most Cajuns tend to use oil. The secret to a perfect roux is to keep it at medium-high heat, add the flour a bit at a time, and keep stirring it until your arms fall off. I threw out at least a 1/2 dozen of my first-tries, so don’t feel bad if you burn it the 1st (or 5th) time. The ingredient are inexpensive, so just chuck it and start over if you screw it up. And whatever you do, don’t ‘settle‘ and use a slightly over-cooked roux…it’ll takes bitter and ruin your gumbo.
A Classic Louisiana Roux Recipe
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup oil
- In a stovetop pot or skillet (cast iron works best), heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot (about 365°), slowly add the flour (about 3 tablespoons at a time) and whisk.
- Keep adding more and more of the flour (3 tablespoons at a time till gone) while continuing to whisk (don’t stop stirring!), 4-6 minutes.
- Whisk until the roux is medium-brown in color (a little darker than a walnut).