Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


I HAVE several gumbo recipes, some so wonderfully authentic with Andouille sausage, filé and the like that I daren’t serve them without a couple Abita brews. Another is FCO (Freezer Clean-Out) Gumbo, and it’s almost as good.


FCO Gumbo.

The trick for any gumbo is its roux, a dark-brown oil-and-flour base that transforms the flavor from merely a jazzed-up tomato soup to a meal in N’Orleans. The roux is the only aspect that needs care; the rest is easy.


Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using a fresh “Cajun holy trinity” of onion, celery and sweet pepper. On the other hand, the freezer had half a bag of frozen “3 Pepper & Onion Blend,” so FCO it was. But wait. With a gumbo, it’s best to assemble all of the ingredients first, and then begin the roux.

Heat the oil in a stock pot, have something to sip while you’re stirring (the roux is going to take 20 minutes or so), and mix in the flour. Continue stirring over medium heat.

Paul Prudhomme, dean of Cajun and Creole cuisine, says you can heat the oil to a super-high 500 degrees Fahrenheit and do up a deep-chocolate roux in a few minutes. See Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. I have this cookbook. I’ve seen him do it in person. I’m impressed. But scorchingly hot oil scares me. Besides, I have that sipping beverage to consider.


The roux, once it’s an acceptable chocolate brown.

There’s nothing wrong with turning the roux a darker hue, almost black, but I ran out of sipping beverage. Then the Cajun holy trinity goes in. At first, it’ll be quite the sticky mess.


Above, the Cajun holy trinity of celery, sweet peppers and onion, with bacon and tomatoes to come later. Below, the trinity meets roux.


After a few minutes of occasional stirring, the sweet peppers have softened and the onion is getting transparent. At this point, I add the bacon and garlic, stir and let them cook for a couple of minutes. Maybe the sipping beverage has been replenished.


Tomatoes in, mix, heat and simmer.

Then in goes a 28-oz. can of tomatoes. I happened to have the crushed variety in the pantry; diced works as well. By way of rinsing out the tomato can, add an equal volume of water. Add salt, pepper(s) and bay leaf. Stir, bring just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.

Even frozen, the seafood needs only a little cooking, just enough for the fish to flake and the shrimp to turn pink. Once in a while, I buy fresh seafood, but then feel committed to using it that day. Instead, having it frozen gives me flexibility of its use, and reason for an occasional FCO.


Above, FCO shrimp and cod. Below, seafood meets gumbo.


Frozen okra would go in at this point too. Alas, there was none in the freezer this time around. Okra adds a traditional flavor and, if simmered sufficiently, loses its reputation for questionable texture.

While the gumbo is simmering, I zap up a packet of frozen rice (we like the brown variety), mince some parsley and set out the Tabasco Sauce.

Total freezer space gained? I’d say enough for three bags of frozen okra.


Above. FCO rice. Below, second serving of FCO Gumbo, photographically speaking.


The parsley is for appearance. The Tabasco? Wife Dottie doesn’t like really hot gumbos. I do. Laissez les bons temps rouler. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2015.


  1. Pingback: A Gallery of Cooks | The Gumbo Diaries

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on August 26, 2015 by in And Furthermore... and tagged , , .
%d bloggers like this: