As I wrote the novels Iron Lace and Rising Tides, I thought that a pot of gumbo was the perfect metaphor for a Southern Louisiana family saga that brings together the unique cultural and racial mixture of the area into one sprawling story told over the course of two novels.
Louisiana gumbo has roots in African, Creole and Cajun culture, as do these stories. It’s a staple, and a good cook throws whatever is fresh and available into the gumbo pot. I tried to do the same with the novels.
In our years of living in New Orleans, my family learned to love gumbos of all kinds, so this dish is a staple in the author’s household, too, most often a winter dish. Because it’s simplest, I usually make the stock one day, cool it over night (outside if the temperatures cooperate) then make the gumbo itself the next. I make 16 quarts at a time in my largest stock pot, because it freezes so beautifully. Then we enjoy gumbo for the remainder of the winter. If it lasts that long.
Like the novels, I’m dividing this recipe into two parts. Here’s the recipe for the stock itself. You’ll find the actual gumbo recipe listed under Rising Tides.