Recently, my father came to visit us. Every time he comes, he expects us to expect him to cook. No time for diets, here. He especially excels in Southeastern Louisiana cuisine – Cajun, mostly, and always makes a gumbo or jambalaya.
Since my husband has gone gluten-free, this kind of threatened to cramp Dad’s style, but he rose to the occasion. Now, he could have made a jambalaya – that is rice-based, and he does a killer smoked meats version. But he wanted to make a gumbo.
In case you are not aware, gumbo begins with a roux. A roux is traditionally made with flour – wheat flour. The standard ratio is 1 part fat (oil, usually), and 1 part flour. (I have seen different ratios, but that is the one my Dad uses). You heat it up slowly until it browns to the color you want. You add half of the vegetables to stop the roux from cooking more, then you add the stock and other things.
This is not a tutorial on how to make gumbo. I tried to keep track, but Dad is more of an instinctive chef, and it was hard to keep up. Besides, there are plenty of good recipe books, cooking shows, YouTube videos, and websites to help you with that. Here’s a recipe from Emeril LaGasse for Delmonico’s Seafood Okra Gumbo!
I will say that Dad planned ahead to make a shrimp and okra gumbo with chicken, because we had some on hand. Okra is a natural thickener, but cannot replace a roux completely. I had already done a little reading up to see what gluten-free blogger had worked with a roux before – it’s also the base for cream of mushroom soup, for instance.
We had some masa harina on hand, and I thought that would be a good substitute for flour. I find rice flour a bit gritty, and am not familiar enough with other varieties of gluten-free flour to choose amongst them. Masa has a good smooth texture, and I thought it would be good.
After experimenting a bit – Dad made a “fat mixture” of chicken fat, butter, and olive oil – he added masa to the fat until he thought the ratio was correct. As I mentioned earlier, the usual ratio of fat to flour is 1:1. Dad ended up using 3/4 cup of the mixed fat to 1/2 cup masa. It made quite a bit of gumbo – he also had about 3 cups of okra in there with the shrimp and chicken.
If I can organize the notes I took, then I will share the recipe later. In Dad’s opinion, the gumbo was a tad “sweeter” than one made with a traditional roux. But we thought it was fantastic – I am no stranger to gumbo myself and my husband was grateful for the gluten free effort.
So, gluten-free does not mean gumbo-free. Give it a try!