Gumbo.  There are rules.  I probably just broke all of them.   There's a Thread about gumbo on Cheftalk in which several contributors chime in on the correct way to make gumbo.  File or Okra, both or either, or one or the other?  How brown to do the roux?  To cook the trinity in the roux or not?  Seafood with chicken or should it be one or the other, not both?  When to add file?  I decided to step out of my comfort zone for this one.  Here's my experience.

First I made the roux.  I used an equal part butter and flour.  The first decision I had to make had to do with what kind of fat to use.  Vegetable oil, butter, or a combination of oil and chicken fat.  In order to use chicken fat I would have had to saute some chicken thighs with the skin on and render the fat first.   I decided not to go that way.  Some other day, not today.   The next decision is on how much to brown the roux.  Some like the roux to provide a little more thickening, some like the okra to provide the thickening.  The darker the roux the less thickening it provides.  How much you brown your roux is up to you.

Here's the progression of the roux from light to dark.
[table][tr][td] [/td][td]
That's about when I decided to stop the browning.  I then added the Trinity.  Trinity is the Louisiana equivalent of Mirepoix.  Mirepoix is 50% onion, 25% celery, 25% carrots.  Replace the carrots with bell pepper when you prepare the trinity.

The proportions above are slightly off.  I'm not dicing up a quarter of an onion to make up the perfect proportions.  Now here's something I've never done before.  I cooked the Trinity in the roux.  The theory is the moisture from the vegetables would stop the roux from browning even more.  Totally different from what I'm used to which is sauteing Mirepoix in a separate pan so I can get a visual of when the onions get translucent.  Here's what happened.  It got darker.  The picture shows the chopped tomatoes which is the next step.  At this point I don't know if my Trinity is soft enough, but the roux looked like it got darker so I decided to add the tomatoes before it got any darker.  Totally out of my zone.

I don't have a photo of the next two steps.  Add chicken stock, and browned chicken meat and allow to simmer for two hours.  Next add Okra, then add Andouille sausage.  I do however have a picture of the Andouille slowly sinking into the soup.  Simmer for another half hour.  You can see in the picture that the oil is separating out a little, which means the flour has lost some of its binding power.

I haven't yet added the file.  I figure I'll ad this when I finish the dish.  I'm adding crayfish to mine.  You can use shrimp or whatever other shellfish you want.  Lobster?  Crab?  Sure, why not?  Here are the crawdads.

And the finished product, served with rice.  I add the File powder at the end.  In that thread I mentioned above someone said that file is always added at the table.  Really?  OK sure.  And of course Frank's hot sauce to round off the dish.

Bon apetit ya'll!