A buddy of mine asked me what I wanted from New Orleans, and I asked for filé powder (powdered sassafras leaves; it's a thickening agent), and sho-nuff he delivered.
I tried to follow the rule of "obey the recipe the first time" for Alton Brown's gumbo, but shrimp in a soup with a tomato base just doesn't seem appetizing, so I made my own gumbo recipe with a tablespoon of filé powder and made a roux to thicken it. Andouille sausage was also involved. I used turkey bacon instead of shrimp.
I like roux, but the idea of separating the fat from drippings and then using butter to make roux makes no sense to me, especially when there's tasty fat in the separator. I don't want roux for chicken soup that tastes like butter, I want roux that tastes like chicken.
I put a layer of ice in my gravy separator and barely cover the ice with water. When I pour the drippings into the separator the drippings immediately solidify into tasty globs of seasoned fatty goodness.
Then I spoon the fat out into a pan,add flour until it's the consistency of congealed gravy, and toast the roux until slightly browned. Then I remove almost all the roux into a bowl off the heat, crank up the heat on the mostly-empty pan and pour what's left in the gravy separator into the hot pan a little bit at a time to steam out most of the water until it's like loose gravy.
This method gives me more roux than I need, so I add small pieces of roux and stir until they disappear until it's a little looser in the pan than I want it when it cools. Then I add white pepper and chicken bouillon powder to taste. Whoo baby.
I finished Howard McGee's "On Food And Cooking" last night. I'm dangerous now: I've read a book.