“Let the good times roll” a French term from medieval times, heard everywhere you turn in New Orleans right now. Carnival season began a month ago in cities like New Orleans, Charleston, San Diego, and more. Weather you’re Creole or Cajun, born in or adopted by this celebration, it is for you.
This celebration is revered for many reasons but what Fat Tuesday is really known for is what always brings people together, lots of good food.
This isn’t ordinary food by any means, but at the same time, it is very basic. The traditional dishes of Fat Tuesday are nothing more than food that was brought by European settlers to New Orleans and the Gulf coastline.
But let’s end this history lesson and get to the reason we’re all here … GUMBO.
As a chef you always need to know where you come from, what your base or foundation for being a chef is, so that you can maintain balance in your cooking. Gumbo is my base. Gumbo was the lifeblood of people who had little else to eat but scraps and rice. Gumbo is so basic in its makeup that it is not a challenge to many cooks in the world, yet Gumbo has a caveat, the roux.
Up to the roux, Gumbo has very few rules. Start with the holy trinity of celery, onion and bell pepper, sauté, add some proteins like sausage, shrimp, mud bugs, duck, etc. and simmer till done and pour over rice. But if you do not make a good roux, you have no base, and your soup will not be gumbo. The foundation is everything in this dish, it gives it color, depth of flavor, texture and thickness
What is the key to taking flour and oil and making a gravy?
True, but here is the challenge to a proper roux: you are going to intentionally burn it. Yes, you are going to burn your flour over the better part of an hour of time. Gravy takes 30 seconds to make, a proper mahogany roux takes an hour. XX flour is the best as it has a higher protein content than AP flour, so you get a better burn and peanut oil is the preferred oil as it has a very high burn point. The trick to the success or failure of the roux is to balance the temperature of the oil to be hot enough, but not too hot as to scorch the flour and to maintain that temp as the flour slowly burns from snow white to peanut butter, to chocolate, to mahogany.
So, to celebrate this amazing holiday (and my personal favorite), Provisions Bar and Grill is throwing a party. We will have some fried okra, we will have some etouffee, we will have moon pies and we will have Gumbo. We will have masks for revelers, traditional cocktails, a king baby scavenger hunt on the property, zydeco music and of course we will have beads for all our guests.
I invite those of you that would like to enjoy this Fat Tuesday celebration in Groveland to come down and say hello. You can even take your Gumbo home if beads being chucked at you randomly is not your thing. But I invite you down not because I want your business, but because I want to celebrate with you, I want to share this tradition with you, ultimately, I want to LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER!