Gasp all you want. Yes. I'm Cajun and I buy my roux.

I've never in my life cooked gumbo from a recipe, but being born and raised in Cajun country, I know the first step to any good gumbo is roux. However, early on I learned how inept I was at that particular task. Setting the kitchen on fire is NOT, I'm fairly certain, the second step.

After that catastrophe after not one, but several, attempts to make the perfect roux, I realized I could keep our wonderful Louisiana specialty food companies in business by buying it ready-made. They do a fine job of preparing it and putting it in those nifty jars that I simply have to scoop up at my local grocery store. I've still got my "Cajun" card and I'm not letting it go!

My only other "trick" to making what most of my family believes is a pretty good gumbo is chicken bouillon cubes. Some people use stock. Some are blessed with the talent of not having to add anything other than just the ingredients and water. I have a chicken-flavored handicap. I accept this.

The whole "gumbo by recipe" thing stumps me. I learned to cook by calling my paternal grandmother, Maw Maw, and asking her for instructions. God rest her soul, she couldn't read or write, but she spoke both English and French, and she could cook better than any living soul I know. (A trait she did NOT pass along to me, except for the gumbo.)

With lows in the mid-50s this weekend and highs possibly not cracking the 80-degree mark, it's time to break out those gumbo pots, if you haven't done it yet this year!

So, if you are a gumbo-making newbie, you will need:

  • roux (really, any brand made by a Louisiana company will do)
  • onions (I like a little bit of celery and bell peppers, but you can decide what you like)
  • chicken
  • sausage (You can choose to throw in tasso, gizzards, boiled eggs... this is a gumbo, after all!)
  • water
  • onion tops and/parsley
  • chicken bouillon or chicken stock (unless you have the "magic touch")
  • seasonings of your choice (salt, pepper, Tony's, whatever you like to season with)
  • rice (cooked on the side, of course)

Don't forget the potato salad! The video below is as close as it comes to the way I cook mine. The biggest differences are that I like to cook mine a little longer and, although I like relish in my potato salad, my family does not.

For those of you who ARE gumbo newbies, freeze what's left over. Gumbo is ALWAYS better the second time around!

Bon appetit! Let me know how it turns out and what YOUR tricks are.