Scumbo: Dad’s Gumbo

from Matty Matheson:  A Cookbook

This gumbo is another one of my dad’s favorite things to make. It’s one of those dishes that really speaks to me. We would always have it in the summer. There’s something addictive about eating a hearty soup like this when it’s hot out. Seafood, sausages, poultry, and a spicy broth made with lots of love makes for layers of flavor. I add lots of extras to it, like crab, turkey necks, quails, and large chunks of andouille sausage. You are only as good as your roux. Take your time to cook your flour and fat. It takes time and maintenance—you need to really pay attention and cook that roux until it’s dark and beautiful. A few years ago, I went down to the Tabasco factory on Avery Island in Louisiana, and it blew my mind. I made a version of this recipe for the higher-ups there, and they said it was one of the best they had ever had. Either they were being nice, or it was perfect, like I thought it was. Be warned: The spice levels can lead to an out-of-body sweating experience.


2 cups (4 sticks/455 g) unsalted butter

1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour

½ cup (120 ml) duck fat

2 pounds (910 g) andouille sausage, cut into ½-inch (12 mm) slices

1 pound (455 g) slab bacon, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks

3 yellow onions, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeño, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

4 tablespoons filé powder

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

2 cups (480 ml) white wine

1 gallon (3.8 L) chicken stock, plus more if needed

2 large turkey necks, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces

6 quails

½ cup (120 ml) Tabasco sauce

½ cup (120 ml) white vinegar

2 whole crabs

4 king crab legs

1 cod fillet, cut into 3-inch (7.5 cm) pieces

2 pounds (910 g) shrimp

3 cups (465 g) okra, trimmed and sliced

2 pounds (910 g) clams

2 pounds (910 g) mussels

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter until bubbling and frothy, then add the flour. Cook this roux with a watchful eye and whisk constantly to make sure the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, 15 to 20 minutes. Making a good dark chocolate–colored roux is very important to this dish.

In a second large pot, place the duck fat, sausage, and bacon. Cook over medium heat to render all the fat, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the onions, bell pep – pers, jalapeño, celery, and garlic; cook until tender and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Next, add your spices (cayenne, filé, Cajun), then deglaze with the wine.

Slowly add 4 cups (960 ml) of the chicken stock to your roux. Use a whisk to stir, making sure there aren’t any clumps of flour. After well combined, add your vegetable-and-sausage mixture. Next, add the remaining chicken stock, and you’ll be left with a very nice red fatty soup. It shouldn’t be thick, so add more chicken stock, if needed.

Drop the turkey necks into the gumbo and cook 1 hour over medium-high heat, then add the quails whole and cook another 45 minutes. Add the Tabasco and vinegar and cook 10 minutes.

Each type of seafood cooks for a different amount of time: First, add the crabs and crab legs and cook 5 minutes, then add the cod and cook 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and okra and cook another 5 minutes, then add the clams and cook another 3 to 6 minutes or until they open. Finally, add the mussels and cook another 1 minute or until they open. Discard any shellfish that doesn’t open, and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Serves: 6

Prep Time: 3 HOURS

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: Don’t want to use turkey necks or can’t find quail? Substitute chicken thighs to get that poultry taste. You can sometimes find filé powder with the Cajun spices. If not, crumble bay leaves instead. I’ve visited the Tabasco factory as well and appreciate the work that goes into each bottle of their sauces. Adjust the heat level by starting with a portion of the hot sauce and increasing it until you’re comfortable with it. This may seem like a labour-intensive recipe, but the result is worth it. Put it out on the back deck with lots of beer and you have a party!

Reprinted with permission from Matty Matheson: A Cookbook, Abrams. 2018. Photographs by Quentin Bacon and Pat O’Rourke.