Learning to make a good roux was a necessary skill to learn after I married my Louisiana-raised turned Arkansas outdoorsman husband.
With gumbos and etouffees, it all starts with a good roux. A roux is a mixture of nearly equal parts flour and fat – vegetable oil, butter and bacon drippings (oh yea, bacon) are most common – that acts as a thickener and flavoring agent. This single gumbo element can range from a nearly flavorless white roux to a complex, nutty roux.
Even though it only requires two ingredients, don’t underestimate the power of a good roux. The stovetop method, which is the preferred method of most cooks, takes constant stirring and some loving attention for up to 45 minutes. A burned roux is the kiss of death for a gumbo, if it turns black and resembles coffee grounds, do everyone a favor and just start over.
To make about 1 cup of roux, you will need 7 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter and 11 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
Bring out your Dutch oven or large cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk vigorously until it’s combined well and the mixture is smooth. Then, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking and whisking until the flour has lost its raw smell but before it turns golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. For a blond roux, continue cooking and stirring occasionally until roux is a light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. For brown roux, which The Park Wife prefers to use in her gumbo, continue cooking until the roux color resembles peanut butter, 30 – 35 minutes. For a dark roux, continue until it darkens, about 45 minutes. Note: as the roux darkens, you will need to stir more frequently. Remove from heat and use immediately or cool completely and freeze for up to six months.
I am heading to Stuttgart, the “Rice and Duck Capital of the World”, for the World Championship Duck Calling Contest and Wings Over the Prairie Festival. In its 79th year, the festival brings in visitors from across the state, the region and the world for the weeklong festival that is happening right now through Saturday, Nov. 29.
Rice production and processing play important roles in our state. Arkansas grows rice on approximately 1.3 million acres each year. It is the state’s second highest value commodity and the top agricultural export. Arkansas rice farmers and millers contribute more than $6 billion to the state’s economy annually and account for over 25,000 jobs, which are crucial to rural communities.
In honor of the annual Duck Gumbo Cook-Off in Stuttgart during the Wings Over the Prairie/World Championship Duck Calling Championship, we would like to share World Duck Calling Championship Gumbo Cook-Off Committee Chairman Curtis Ahrens Duck Gumbo recipe.
Ingredients for Duck Gumbo:
12 ducks boiled, boned & chopped (save broth)
2 bunches celery chopped
12 onions chopped
1 head garlic crushed
12 bell peppers chopped
2 bay leaves
2 pounds cut okra
4 bunches green onions chopped
1 large pack fresh mushrooms sliced
1/2 bottle red wine
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
4 – 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
5 cups flour
5 cups shortening
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne
6 tablespoons Creole season
A little Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce
6 tablespoons salt
1/2-cup soy sauce
A little oregano
Make a roux with shortening and flour (brown not burnt). Sauté onions, celery & bell peppers then add to duck broth, add seasonings bring to boil. Add roux & duck meat, stir well. Boil 30 minutes then add tomato sauce, tomato paste, green onions, mushrooms and okra. Simmer 30 minutes then add wine.
Serve over Arkansas Grown Riceland rice with gumbo file’.
Stephanie, aka The Park Wife, is a tribe builder. She is the founder of Arkansas Women Bloggers (ARWB), an online community designed to gather, grow, and connect social media influencers in our state. Considered an old-timer in the blog world, since 2005 she has written what she hopes is a love letter to her children on her lifestyle blog, The Park Wife. Raised in the debutante world of Mississippi, she married a hunky park ranger and moved to Arkansas 15 years ago and has fallen in love with the state. She loves gardening, porch swings, a beautifully set table, a delicious meal surrounded by great conversations, their cabin in the woods and monograming everything that is not nailed down. She is a devoted wife and fun-loving, homeschool mom to two extraordinarily cool little gentlemen and is fortunate enough to live on one of Arkansas’s premier state parks.