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This recipe requires a bit of elbow grease – one full hour of continuous stirring to be exact – but it’s great biceps exercise! And it tastes wonderful, so that alone makes it all worth it. Here’s how it works: you make a roux from peanut oil and flour in a Dutch oven. You stir and stir and stir and watch the roux go from beige and smooth to oatmeal color and clumpiness, then through a chunky peanut butter look, a smooth peanut butter look and then a chocolate look.
When you’ve arrived at a good, deep chocolate color, you pat yourself on the back and take a quick nap. Then you saute some vegetables, add some broth, some spices and the roux, simmer a little and finish with shrimp. That’s it! See, it’s not so bad. And it does taste really delicious, so I say go ahead and try it!
Update: Since posting this recipe I’ve found a much better (and safer) method of making a roux and I have amended the recipe accordingly. Instead of stirring, you can make the roux entirely in the oven, it works like a charm, requires much less work and significantly reduces the risk of burning yourself.
- ½ cup peanut oil
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried French thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika*
- ~ 40 medium-sized raw shrimp
- 3 green onions, sliced
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk peanut oil and flour in a Dutch oven until smooth.
- Put the Dutch oven in the actual oven and let the roux bake in the uncovered pot until it has a chocolate color (1½ – 2 hours). Whisk the roux every 40 minutes during that process.
- Let the roux cool down to almost room temperature.
- Transfer the roux into a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the canola oil in the Dutch oven until shimmering.
- Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and saute on medium heat until they start to soften (about 8 minutes.)
- Add the garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Add the chicken broth, then stir in the roux and let the mix come to a boil, stirring continuously.
- Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano and Hungarian paprika, put on the lid and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes until pink and opaque.
- Serve with rice and sprinkle on some green onions.
Food Photography and Styling: Right away I liked the beautiful sheen on this gumbo, it looked very elegant so I placed the dish in an elegant set. I used a nice fabric that looked like a tablecloth you might find on a restaurant table. I ironed the cocktail napkin (it’s the one from Crate &Barrel) to create a distinct crease which, to my mind, added to the elegant look and also created some movement and made the whole photo feel much less rigid. I chose a glass with a very short stem rather than a traditional wineglass whose tall stem would have looked out of proportion. (It’s a glass from Crate & Barrel, the same one I used in the hazelnut pumpkin spice trifle photo). The background is a wood surface (it’s an antique shutter) and I chose it because I liked its texture as a background in this photo and its color was a good fit for the fabric.
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.