Donald Link's Gumbo Tips

New Orleans chef Donald Link brought us into his home kitchen to give us the lowdown on gumbo's building blocks: roux and stock. Here are the takeaways.

Chefs making a pot of roux

Link to Success

Our tips for making a perfect roux, the backbone of gumbo, and Louisiana cuisine writ large.Chris Granger

Choose Your Roux

A dark, dense roux adds body and burnt-popcorn depth to smoked turkey and andouille gumbo, while a lighter one lends nuttiness and a soupier consistency—perfect for smoked goose and foie gras gumbo.

Whisk Constantly

New Orleans chef Donald Link (above, center) recommends using a whisk while stirring for better control; it helps break up clumps of flour and incorporate them into the fat. Cook roux in a cast-iron pot, which heats evenly, and stir slowly and continually, reaching into the pot's corners, so the flour doesn't burn.

Stock

Stock can also make or break your gumbo. For the best-tasting version, caramelize the meat first, and then skim the fat as the stock cooks. It will become more concentrated, so wait until the end of cooking to season to taste.