Gumbo To Go
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
¾ Cup Bacon Drippings
1 Cup Coarsely Chopped Celery
1 Large Onion, Coarsely Chopped
1 Large Green Bell Pepper, Coarsely Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Pound Andouille Sausage, Sliced
4 Quarts Beef Broth
6 Cubes Beef Bouillon
1 Teaspoon White Sugar
Sea Salt To Taste
2 Tablespoons Hot Pepper Sauce (Such As Tabasco®), Or To Taste
1 Teaspoon Cajun Seasoning Blend, Or To Taste
4 Bay Leaves
½ Teaspoon Dried Thyme Leaves
1 (14.5 Ounce) Can Stewed Tomatoes
1 (6 Ounce) Can Tomato Sauce
4 Teaspoons File Powder, Divided
2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings
2 (10 Ounce) Packages Frozen Cut Okra, Thawed
2 Tablespoons Distilled White Vinegar
1 Pound Lump Crabmeat
3 Pounds Uncooked Medium Shrimp, Peeled And Deveined
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
Step 1 Make a roux by whisking the flour and 3/4 cup bacon drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown color. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.
Step 2 Place the celery, onion, green bell pepper, and garlic into the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse until the vegetables are very finely chopped. Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
Step 3 Bring the water and beef bouillon cubes to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Stir until the bouillon cubes dissolve, and whisk the roux mixture into the boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of file gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.
Step 4 Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Mix in crabmeat, shrimp, and Worcestershire sauce, and simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of file gumbo powder. Serves 20
What is Filé Powder
Filé powder, also known as gumbo filé, is an herbal powder made from the dried and ground leaves of the sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum), native to eastern North America. The roots and bark of this same plant were the original base for root beer.
Powdered sassafras leaves were first used in cooking by the Choctaw Indians of the Southern U.S. When the Cajuns arrived in Southern Louisiana, they began using the spice as a thickener and flavoring in their soups, stews, and gumbos. Not all gumbo recipes call for filé powder, but a true “filé gumbo” should have both filé powder and okra.
The word filé comes from the French “filer”, which means “to spin threads.” Indeed, filé powder, if added to the stew during cooking, does become thick and stringy and could ruin an otherwise delicious gumbo It should be added to the gumbo off the heat just before serving, or serve it at the table for guests to sprinkle over their gumbo.