As a preface, I'm a pure-blooded Cajun and have never cooked from a recipe... I always used intuition as my guide when making my gumbo's. I'll format it as a lesson in Cajun cooking (as I've seen it done wrong so many times) here's an approximation of what I usually do, along with some hints and rules along the way.
Roland's Meat Gumbo:
1 pound sausage (spicier the better... use andouillon if you can find it... I'd pass up so-called "Cajun" sausage... as there is no such thing )
1-2 pounds meat (chicken, duck, 'coon, gator...)
3-4 large, minced onions
2 green peppers, minced
2 red bell peppers, minced
1 yellow bell pepper, minced (optional)
8-10 celery stalks, minced
4-6 galic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped parsley
1/8 cup cayenne pepper (or to taste... I usually use more like a 1/4 cup)
2 or 3 bay leaves
salt to taste
2-6 cups roux (more later)
The Trinity & the Pope:
These two rules described with good ol' Catholic imagery are the base of every Cajun dish. These two simple fundamentals are often where people go wrong
The Pope is galic.
Easy, huh? Just make sure these four ingredients appear in decent amounts in any recipe and you're good to go.
Making a roux is maybe themost daunting step of a gumbo, but with patience it really isn't that tough. In short a roux is browned flour mixed with oil. For a typical 3 gallon gumbo (above) I usually start with 2-3 cups of flour (I suppose... I usually just start dumping flour into the pan until it looks right ). Put the flour dry into a skillet and start heating on medium-low. Slowly heat the flour, stirring often and watch for sticking and burning. If you burn the flour you have to throw it away and start again. With patience (and usually alot of temperature fiddling along the way) the flour will slowly darken from white to a nice tan. Here I find having a beer or two on hand helps immensely. It's a bid of voodoo I learned from my father. Once you reach your desired color (usually sooner than two hours) mix with an equal amount of oil and heat briefly. This dark mixture is your roux.
Some notes on roux: you want the color of your roux to match the meats you are using. Seafood gumbo's work best with a really light roux while gamey animals want a really (almost black) roux. Also, a fresh hot roux is always mixed with cold water. Refridgerated roux's go into boiling water. It aides in emulsifying.
With your roux done and all your meat and vegetables cut, throw it all into a 3 gallon pot with water. Bring it all to a boil and then slow cook it for at least 3 hours. I usually shoot for 5, but i guess it depends on how hungry you are.
Serve with rice and a pinch of file' (ground sassafrass leaves)... of and beer... lots of beer. Abita Turbodog is my favorite pairing, but any dry Amber or Light Ale would match well.