Decades ago I fell in love with Gumbos in New Orleans and came back with a cookbook called Gumbo Shop by Richard Stewart. Since then I have been experimenting with making Gumbo inspired by the book but simplified by my kitchen. Here is somerville Gumbo recipe if you want to try it.
The most important Gumbo ingredient, in my humble opinion, is Okra. I typically start by frying them, whole or in one-inch cuts, in a bit of vegetable oil - just get them to start changing colour, but keep them on the green side.
Next you make a dark roux by frying flour in vegetable oil - I never mastered making roux, but to be honest with you, it seems to end up mixed up with the rest of the ingredients and works no matter how imperfect the roux is.
Gumbo spices are basic - black, white and cayenne peppers. But I have smuggled this tub of Cajun seasoning once. It is a perfect mix of spices that works great in my Gumbos.
Gumbos can be made with seafood, chicken, root vegetables, corn, meats - the list goes on.
Each recipe in
the book has elaborate procedures on how to incorporate the meat,
cook it, etc. I keep it simple and use any cooked chicken I have.
Simple formula - a can of tomatoes, 1/2 can tomato paste, a bit of water added to the roux. Then spices, cooked chicken and okras and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
Now the way to serve Gumbo is in a soup bowl with a ball of cooked white rice in the middle. And that part of the recipe I will not dream of changing.
Give it a try with my formula, be experimental with what you throw in it and enjoy on those cold nights ahead.