Gumbo, Wondra, what the? Well, actually yes, they do work together and your Gumbo is still a Creole – Cajun dish.
Why Wondra you may ask? The answer will be obvious once you understand what Wondra is. Spoiler alert, its explained near the bottom.
Now back to Gumbo, the most well known trait of a good Gumbo is the Roux, it’s this mixture of flour and oil , cooked until you reach the level of nuttiness and color you prefer. What isn’t widely known is that the darker the Roux, the more you cook the flour the less it acts as a thickener.
Enter stage left, Okra and File, two classic ways to thicken a gumbo roux. In Creole cooking the Okra is more widely used and in Cajun cooking it’s File.
Back to flour, its flavor changes the longer it is cooked, and I prefer that very dark, chocolate color and nutty flavor that comes from a long cook. So my roux does a poor job of thickening the gumbo.
Francene just doesn’t like Okra unless it’s fried and File has a flavor to it. A flavor that adds if used sparingly and overpowers if dumped in.
In a typical Gumbo recipe you would have a roux of 1 cup oil and 1 cup flour, cooked till you reach the desired color. Add your trinity and then add about 3 quarts of liquid, chicken or beef broth. Then add the goodies and simmer.
If the roux (remember, I like a dark chocolate roux) isn’t going to act as a thickener then you have to simmer to reduce the liquid otherwise you will be simmering forever, and your goodies will become mush.
For those that don’t know, Gumbo is actually a soup with more body similar to a stew.
I’ve added what I think is a reasonable amount of file, and it’s still too soupy. Well, Thanksgiving is closing in, and in the back of our minds, Thanksgiving recipes have been racing around, including gravy.
I have never hesitated using Wondra in a gravy, and it has never had that raw flour taste, so I reach into the pantry and grab the blue tube and go for it. Wondra flour is super fine so it doesn’t clump, mixes well, and gets you to where you want to go quickly.
I taste the Gumbo and it’s great, but why doesn’t it taste like raw flour, well it’s because the flour has already been cooked. And it is mixed with a malted barley so we have a finished taste right from the container.
If the flavor of the Gumbo changed any, I couldn’t tell and if so, it just might have smoothed out a bit.
So the moral of the story is to not be afraid to think out of the box, a tube may just be what you are looking for.