Gluten Free Gumbo
Category: Main Dishes | Blog URL: http://gabe-greencross.blogspot.com/2009/11/gluten-free-gumbo-begin-with-gluten.html
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: Gabriel Cross
I made gumbo last weekend, which as we all know, starts with a roux. Gumbo is the ultimate comfort food for anyone with a southern mother (like me), and as the house was filled with the signature smell of Cajun cooking, I felt at home here in Oregon for the first time. The recipe below does not contain exact portions, because I always just make it up as I go. Instead I describe the process and give some guesses.
As those close to us know, Courtney is allergic to wheat, which is one of the only two ingredients in roux. I had made gumbo once or twice with a quinoa flour roux, which was alright but somewhat disappointing. The quinoa did not thicken up the way roux should, and added a strange nutty overtone. So this time I consulted the all knowing Internet, and was shocked by the dearth of information on gluten free roux. There was only one decent link to a video on Gluten Free Girl, but that was a french roux and I needed a Cajun one.
I decided to wing it. Believe it or not, the most simple solution turned out perfectly. I grabbed a bag of GF All Purpose Baking Flour from Bob's Red Mill (a lovely company) and used it exactly as I would regular flour. It thickened up just the right amount, browned well, and tasted delicious. I almost think they should market it separately as 'GF Roux Flower.'
Cajun roux is different from french roux primarily in that vegetable oil is used in stead of butter (any fat can be used for roux, but different regional cuisines have different traditions). It is also used differently, as a thickener for stews and soups (gumbo, jambalaya e.g.) and not so much as a thickener for sauce (veloute or bechamel would be thickened with a french roux).
Cajun roux is made with vegetable oil for two reasons: first it is cheaper than butter (a lot of Cajun recipes use ingredients that are cheap and abundant in the south), and second because you can make the roux much, much darker in oil. With a french roux, the butter will burn before the roux cooks to the right color, which various cookbooks have described as "the color of peanut butter," "a deep nutty brown," "walnut," etc. Whatever you call it, you'll never get there with butter.