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Old 03-20-2017, 12:08 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Quick question. Does anyone use file for any dish other than gumbo???
The three related New Orleans dishes - gumbo, jambalaya, and etouffee - all potentially use file powder, and in the same way.
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Old 03-20-2017, 03:02 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Late Night Gourmet View Post
As you note here, file powder is used as a thickener, which is an important thing in a gumbo. If you make your gumbo with okra (which is very common), you technically don't need to use file as a thickener. But, you can add a tablespoon of it for the unique flavor benefit.

Having said that, I haven't made the same gumbo back-to-back with and without the file powder to compare them. It's likely that file used as a flavoring would be so subtle that it could be missed (particularly considering how spicy my gumbos tend to be).

And, here's another thing. "Gumbo" isn't a locked-down specific thing that can only be done one way. What we consider to be gumbo today - with browned roux being a key component - is a Paul Prudhomme invention that became accepted as law in the 1980s. I'm not knocking Paul Prudhomme's credentials, but the fact remains that there's a long, rich history of different ways to make gumbo: some of them use file powder, some don't.
So, you're an expert on Cajun and Creole cooking? Prudhomme invented the different levels of roux? My daughter's in-laws are Cajuns and their family make roux for many dishes, most have no clue about Paul Prudhomme and have been making roux long before the '80's. Sure would like to know where your "facts" come from. Again you are speaking for others when you claim "What we know as gumbo today".
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Old 03-20-2017, 03:15 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dawgluver View Post
I've probably had it in Nawlins gumbo in NOLA, but personally have not cooked with it.

What do you think about it, Craig?
Karen doesn't like it, so I've only used it at the table. I really think it has a unique flavor, but guess it is one of those like or dislike seasonings. I consider it a bitter, umami flavor.
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Old 03-20-2017, 04:21 PM   #14
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[QUOTE= What we consider to be gumbo today - with browned roux being a key component - is a Paul Prudhomme invention that became accepted as law in the 1980s. .[/QUOTE]


Ummm, no.

Paul Prudhomme decidedly did NOT invent brown roux gumbo.

"It was only toward the end of the 19th century that the ingredient that's perhaps most closely associated with gumbo today made its way into the pot: roux. A staple of French cuisine, it's a blend of flour and fat (usually oil for gumbo) cooked together, used as a thickening agent and—particularly in its darker Creole and Cajun variants—as a flavoring agent, too.



Adding roux to gumbo was definitely a Louisiana innovation, and it seems to have been used first with oyster gumbos. In July 1880, after the New Orleans City Item ran an article on gumbo, they received a letter from "a lady who is a very competent authority in such matters" instructing them on the "genuine Creole method of making gumbo." She provided instructions for a standard chicken and okra gumbo with no roux, then followed it with a recipe for gumbo filé with oysters. It begins "make a roux and brown the ingredients as in the other recipe."

Lafcadio Hearn's La Cuisine Creole (1885) includes eight different gumbo preparations, three of which are for oyster gumbo. One of them opens like this: "Fry a tablespoon of flour in a tablespoon of lard. Let it brown slowly so as not to scorch." Though not called out by name, that's a roux. It's added to two quarts of boiling oyster liquor along with onions, ham, and parsley. The oysters themselves are introduced at the very end along with a half cup of filé powder

How Roux Made Its Way Into the Gumbo Pot | Serious Eats

Prudhomme, as the article points out, made it trendy and the norm in NO restaurants.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:53 AM   #15
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File' (fee lay) or gumbo file' powder is ground sassafras leaves. It is mostly used for thickening gumbo and stews in Cajun cooking, either during the cooking process or at the table. So, how do you use it, if at all?
I don't use file in cooking my gumbo, but always put some on the table for people to add. Some people like it, and others don't, so I let people choose. It's kind of like Tabasco or other hot sauces... make it available for those who want it.

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Old 03-21-2017, 01:06 AM   #16
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I used to have a roommate from Louisiana who told me it should be used more as a condiment, or, if added during cooking, to only add it at the very end before serving. His recommendation was to put it on the table, and if people choose to add it they can.
I lived in Cajun country for about ten years (Port Arthur), and that was my experience, too. Like I said in my previous post, I put it on the table like your roommate said, as a condiment.

When I make gumbo, I am a slave to my cast-iron dutch oven for what seems like an eternity, stirring with a whisk to make a chocolate roux from scratch, and I add okra later as a thickener, so file is not a necessity. It is a choice.

BTW, I have tried the oven method of making a dark roux, and it does work, but takes a really long time. I prefer to make myself a tall drink, and stir constantly for 20 minutes (more or less). It gets good results, and gives you an emotional connection to the food.

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Old 03-21-2017, 01:31 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by The Late Night Gourmet View Post
What we consider to be gumbo today - with browned roux being a key component - is a Paul Prudhomme invention that became accepted as law in the 1980s. I'm not knocking Paul Prudhomme's credentials, but the fact remains that there's a long, rich history of different ways to make gumbo: some of them use file powder, some don't.
What I call gumbo is what my best friend's mamas made when I moved to Port Arthur and lived there for ten years. I had never heard of Paul Prudhomme back then. He didn't invent it.

There are basically two gumbos, cajun and creole. They come from two groups of people who settled in Louisiana. Cajun has a more rustic, French Canadian refugee background, while creole has more of an African-Caribean background.

I learned more cajun than creole in Port Arthur, where they sold more boudin than hot dogs at the corner convenience store. That's what I cook more often. To me, it is more rustic -- more comfort food.

I like cajun in the cold weather, and creole in the summer months. Creole flavors are brighter, which makes them better for warmer seasons, IMO. I only make my cajun gumbo in the winter, when the forecast is for cold, ugly weather.

As for "browned roux," that's what I learned from my surrogate "mamas," and that's what makes a cajun gumbo a cajun gumbo. That was being done before Paul Prudhomme was born.

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Old 03-21-2017, 11:05 AM   #18
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So, you're an expert on Cajun and Creole cooking? Prudhomme invented the different levels of roux? My daughter's in-laws are Cajuns and their family make roux for many dishes, most have no clue about Paul Prudhomme and have been making roux long before the '80's. Sure would like to know where your "facts" come from. Again you are speaking for others when you claim "What we know as gumbo today".
I never said I was an expert, and - jennyema- I also never said that that Paul Prudhomme invented roux, just that he invented what became accepted "laws" for modern Cajun cooking. You want facts about the history of Cajun cooking, read this:

How Roux Made Its Way Into the Gumbo Pot | Serious Eats

You want some eye rolling? Next time, before you slam someone for stating easily verifiable facts, check out a little thing called Google.
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:19 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by The Late Night Gourmet View Post
What we consider to be gumbo today - with browned roux being a key component - is a Paul Prudhomme invention that became accepted as law in the 1980s.

Emphasis is mine
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:20 AM   #20
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And you are citing my source (that I quoted from above) to refute me. That usually doesn't work ..
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