Modern gumbo came from Louisiana French culture and cuisine. It is the official state cuisine of Louisiana, although the dish originated in West Africa. Gumbo also has roots in German and Spanish cuisines. Gumbo usually contains meat or shellfish stock, a thickening ingredient, and vegetables. The "Holy Trinity" of gumbo vegetables include celery, bell peppers, and onions. Different types of gumbo are often named according to their thickening ingredients. Traditional gumbo dishes in Louisiana are thickened with roux, okra, or dried sassafras leaves known as 'filé.'
Roux is made with white flour and fat. Several types of oil and animal fat are used to give roux a rich flavor and thick consistency. Adjust roux recipes for larger or smaller amounts by using equal amounts of oil and flour. A basic roux recipe requires 1-cup of oil or fat and 1-cup of flour. Lard, bacon grease, and vegetable oil are common ingredients. Heat the oil in a large skillet and slowly add flour while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook the roux for 45 to 60 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
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