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It’s not easy to pry gumbo-making secrets from a cook in New Orleans, but you should have better luck if you slip them some truth serum, in the form of several well-made sazeracs.
This particular gumbo, featuring duck, andouille sausage, smoked pork hock, gulf shrimp, and langoustine, was inspired by my recent trip to New Orleans, where I sampled a half-dozen varieties.
One rye whiskey-induced tip was to cook the famous Cajun roux in some duck fat instead of the more common and mundane vegetable oil. The roux is the soul of the gumbo and one of the challenges of this recipe is giving the fat and flour enough time to turn into that deep brick red-brown color.
My little trick here is to add a couple extra spoons of flour after the roux is browned. The dark roux gives the gumbo its signature flavor, but it doesn’t have much thickening power. I just cooked it a couple minutes, and then stirred in the stock.
Another tweak is using pickled okra instead of fresh or frozen. This particular perversion was born out of necessity rather than some brilliant thought on my part. Of course, if this technique catches on, that story will change. The pickled okra gave the gumbo a great flavor and added a little bit of acidity, which is always welcome in something this substantial.
This can be made with hundreds of different combinations of smoked meats, game, poultry, and seafood; and in my opinion, the more the merrier. As usual, I’d love to hear about any variations you may come up with. As you’ll see, the procedure is pretty straightforward, although you’re talking about a full day’s project. This is a dish that takes time, but I still hope you give it a try. Enjoy!
2 duck legs
1 tbsp vegetable oil, more as needed
1 cup flour, plus 2 tbsp for second addition
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound andouille sausage
1 large onion, chopped
4 green onions chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup diced peppers (any combination of sweet and hot)
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 smoked pork hock
2 cups water, or as needed
1 cup sliced okra, fresh, frozen or pickled
1 pound gulf shrimp
1 pound crawfish tail meat or langoustine
rice to garnish