Creole File Gumbo

Creole file gumbo is a great spicy gumbo that will make anyone's mouth water. The difference with tis gumbo aand all the other gumbos is that file' powder is added to increase the flavor of the dish. A file' gumbo can consist of any kind of meat that you prefer, chicken, sausage, or seafood.

File powder is one of the key ingredients in making gumbo and has a distinctive "root beer" flavor. File powder is made from the dried ground leaves of the sassafras tree. They were believed to have been first used by the Choctaw Indians from Louisiana bayou region.Today the powder is used to both thicken and flavor gumbo.

There are many differnet recipes for File' gumbo, but me favorite is actually on from Emeril Lagasse. It is rather spicy and you can subsitute the seasonings for a milder taste. It is a great recipe with tons of creole flavor.

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Emeril's Creole File' Gumbo


1 1/2 cups Medium Dark Roux, see How To Roux, recipe follows

2 cups diced onions

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced green bell pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

2 quarts shrimp, crab or chicken stock

1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds, browned in a skillet, and drained on paper towels

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Dash hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows

1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage

1/3 cup green onion tops, chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup file powder, or to taste

Steamed White Rice, for serving


Heat the roux in a medium-sized heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, celery and bell pepper. Stir mixture until onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the browned sausage, bay leaves, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Bring gumbo to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until gumbo is slightly reduced, about 50 minutes. (Gumbo should cook long enough for the roux flavor to mellow and for any floury taste to dissipate.)

Season the shrimp with the Essence in a small bowl. Stir in the seasoned shrimp, crabmeat, green onions, parsley, thyme and basil. Cook until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Sprinkle in file powder and cook, stirring, 2 minutes more, or pass file at the table for guests to thicken as desired. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve in warmed soup bowls over steamed white rice.

How to Roux:

3 cups vegetable oil

5 cups all-purpose flour

Place a heavy, iron Dutch oven, (or iron skillet with deep sides) over medium heat and heat the oil until just smoking. Whisk in flour, a little at a time and cook, whisking constantly, until roux becomes smooth and thick. Continue to cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon and reaching all over bottom of pan, until roux darkens to desired color. Be careful not to produce specs of black. The roux must remain an even color throughout process. If specs appear you must start over.

For a Light Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until the color of peanut butter. Remove about 1 cup of the light colored roux, cool completely, and set aside for the Delmonico's Seafood Okra Gumbo.

For a Medium Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the color of a copper penny when ready. Remove about 13/4 cups of the medium colored roux, cool completely, and set aside for Emeril's Country File Gumbo.

For a Dark Brown Roux, cook the mixture an additional 35 to 45 minutes. The color should resemble dark chocolate when ready. Remove all of the remaining dark roux from the pan and cool completely. Set aside for the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

Yield: about 4 1/2 cups roux

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Inactive Prep Time:

NOTE: The timings for various shades of roux will vary depending on the cooktop as well as the amount of roux made. (A smaller amount will cook in much less time.) If this is your first time making a roux, the slower you cook it, the less likely you will be to burn it. The important thing is to cook the roux to the desired color, as specified above.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

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