“Gumbo is the quintessential Louisiana dish; it’s practically a religion here. Everyone makes it a little differently, but everyone makes it—and has very strong opinions on the right way to do it. I learned to make gumbo from my uncle, who learned it from my grandma. But I waited a long time before putting it on the La Petite menu, because it’s such a personal thing.
Gumbo has gone through so many creative interpretations that once you understand the essentials, it really just comes down to making it however you want to make it. I use duck because I like to go duck hunting, but if you prefer chicken, that works, too. These days, I’m not so concerned with making a super-traditional gumbo—I’d rather throw in some poblano peppers and greens, and if you want to call it blasphemy, that’s fine with me. I think it’s delicious.
A few things to note about the cooking technique: The success of a great gumbo lies in the roux (which in this case is a flavoring agent, more than a thickening one). This recipe can be easily doubled to feed a crowd (and freezes well); make it in advance if possible, since it always tastes better the second day. It’s traditional to serve gumbo with rice, though my favorite accompaniment is a super-simple potato salad with mustard, mayonnaise, and vinegar —that’s a classic southwestern Louisiana way to eat it.” —Justin Devillier
Reprinted with permission from The New Orleans Kitchen by Justin Devillier with Jamie Feldmar, copyright (c) 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Denny Culbert