Saturday, November 28, 2009


Roux (roo) is an equal mixture of flour and oil that is browned until chocolate-colored. It is used as a thickening base for many South Louisiana dishes. In fact, the standard opening to most Cajun recipes is "First, you make a roux". Roux is traditionally cooked very slowly in a heavy iron skillen, stirring constantly for ten to fifteen minutes until the desired color is obtained. It is tricky to get it just right without burning. However, roux can be prepared very effectively in a microwave oven in a shorter time with a lot less mess. The recipe below is designed for the microwave but can be made on top of the stove as well. Simply brown the flour and oil, stirring constantly, until it is a deep rust color, add the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until tender. Roux freezes very well.

Cooking time: 12 minutes
Utensil: 4 cup glass measuring cup

2/3 cup corn oil
2/3 cup flour
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup green onion tops, chopped
Approximately 1/4 cup hot water

Mix oil and flour together in 4 cup pyrex measuring cup. Microwave uncovered on high for 6 minutes. Roux will be light brown. Stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds to 1 minute on high until roux is dark brown. The roux will be very hot, but usually the handle on your glass measuring cup will be cool enough to touch. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to roux in measuring cup and stir. Return to microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes. Remove and add garlic, parsley, and green onion. Stir and return to microwave. Cook on high for 2 minutes. You should have about 3 3/4 cups of roux. If any oil has risen to the top, spoon it off. Slowly add enough hot tap water to bring roux to the 4 cup mark. Stir and you will have made a smooth, dark roux in only 12 minutes.

Gumbo Ya-Ya (aka what every leftover Thanksgiving turkey should become!)

Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. It is perfect, really, because it is about amazing, traditional family food and reflecting on all the good things in life for which to be thankful. And, you know, there's no shopping involved (except for food, which is, in my world, the only kind of really fun shopping!).

As usual, I have already dropped the ball with this blog with posting all of our Thanksgiving recipes before the actual event. But, since we eat many of the same things at Christmas, I'll get them up soon. Afterall, pie is always a good idea. As is Aunt Ira's spinach casserole. But today, I'm giving you a great idea to use up that wonderful turkey carcass. If you haven't already picked the meat off of it and made a stock, that's your first step. Everyone has different stock techniques, and I didn't watch my dad closely enough this year to tell you all of his secrets, but one that I noticed that surprised me was that instead of just adding water to the pot to simmer the turkey carcass, he added good Pacifica-brand organic chicken stock, as well. Perhaps it is a bit like stone soup, but wow...I could have drunk the whole gallon of broth by the time it was done.'s our recipe, reproduced faithfully from our family cookbook, since I've not ever had the honor of making gumbo ya-ya. Though after my success in pie-baking this year (which will be covered extensively in a later post), perhaps next year I'll get my turn with the turkey carcass. Also, I'll try to get Mom and Dad to add some comments, as I think that there are a few variations that they've made to this recipe in the last 20 years. Other experts, please feel free to comment, as well. That means you, Uncle Dean!

Mister B's Gumbo Ya Ya

4 c. roux (see separate post here)
1 frying chicken
1 gallon chicken stock (see below)
1 lb. sliced andouille sausage (hot smoked sausage may be used)
2 bay leaves
1 t. dried thyme
1 T. Tabasco sauce
1 T. Gumbo file
1/2 c. chopped green onions
salt and black pepper

For stock:
water to cover chicken (about 1 1/2 gallon)
1 med. onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 bay leaf
2 T. salt
black pepper

Place chicken whole in a large pot. Cover with water. Add quartered onion, celery pieces, bay leaf, salt and pepper for stock. Simmer for 40-50 minutes until chicken is tender. Cool. Remove chicken, reserving liquid. Strip meat from bones and set aside in refrigerator. Return bones to pot and boil gently until volume of liquid is reduced to about 1 gallon. Strain stock through sieve and cool. Remove fat from surface of stock.

Brown sausage on both sides in an 8 qt. kettle. Add roux and heat to boiling. Add chicken stock, chicken meat, bay leaves, and thyme. Simmer 25 minutes. Add Tabasco and green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings. Simmer another 10-15 minutes. Just before serving add gumbo file. Serve in soup bowls over boiled rice. Hot garlic bread goes great with gumbo.

Gumbo tastes best cooked the day before serving and refrigerated overnight so the flavors can "make a marriage". Just reheat slowly to boiling and add gumbo file immediately prior to serving. Serves 8-10 people (6 Cajuns). Freezes well.

Gumbo can be made using turkey or chicken that has been cooked in an electric meat smoker. Simply strip meat from carcass before making stock from the bones, and add meat back in near the end. Using smoked meat adds a lot of flavor to the gumbo.