A step-by-step guide to making perfect, Louisiana-style gumbo, according to a golf-club chef
Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
In the Deep South, especially in and around the Big Easy, chefs are judged by a singular dish — their gumbo. Just ask Aaron Picarella, the executive chef at TPC Louisiana, who previously served as the chef de cuisine at Desi Vega’s Steakhouse in downtown New Orleans. “It’s one of those dishes that you concentrate on,” he says.
At TPC Louisiana, Chef Picarella will make various gumbos throughout the year: chicken and andouille sausage; duck and andouille sausage; and seafood. He’ll also occasionally whip up a pot of Gumbo Yaya, which includes chicken, shrimp, crab, oysters, and crawfish. Like the member-favorite seafood variation, this one is typically made only during crawfish season.
In a bowl of gumbo, the proteins may steal most of the spotlight, but Chef Picarella acknowledges that it’s the balance of flavors from all of the ingredients that’s most critical. Well, that, and a gumbo’s roux. “The roux is what makes gumbo,” he explains. “That’s what people judge a gumbo on.”
As the chef explains, the best roux is one that’s dark, but it takes patience to slowly craft a roux to that desired shade. According to Picarella, many chefs use melted butter when making a roux, but he prefers to use oil, since it offers a higher smoking point which brings out a pleasing nutty flavor as the roux darkens. “You’re definitely concentrating just as much time on that roux as you are the soup itself,” he says. “You really don’t walk away from it at all — you’re constantly agitating it. The care that you put into your roux definitely shines through when the gumbo is finished.”
Below, Chef Picarella shares a slightly modified recipe for his seafood gumbo:
TPC Louisiana’s Famous Seafood Gumbo
1 lb. shrimp (30-40), peeled and deveined
1 lb. picked crab claw meat
2 dozen oysters with liquid
8 oz. Andouille sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
3 quarts seafood stock
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup fresh okra, chopped
½ cup vegetable oil
4 tsp. flour
1 tbsp. gumbo file
1 tbsp. paprika
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tbsp. thyme
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over low heat, then add the flour to make a roux, stirring frequently until the mixture is the color of peanut butter.
Add the onions and okra and cook over low heat until the vegetables wilt (about 4 minutes).
In a 5-quart pot, combine the shrimp and sausage. Then add the vegetable mixture, seafood stock, gumbo file, paprika, and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 30 minutes or until the broth reaches your desired consistency.
Add the crab meat, oysters with liquid, parsley, garlic, and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook another 10 minutes or so.
To serve, pour over steamed white rice and garnish with the green onions.