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Person holding a cutting board and pushing chopped onions and celery into a Dutch oven on a stovetop. Sliced sausage, chicken, okra, and red bell peppers can be seen in the background.



Fancy yourself a gumbo gladiator with the chops to top all others? Put your holy trinity where your mouth is and enter the Oil City Gumbo Cookoff! This annual event is your chance to show the world (or at least Casper, Wyoming) what gumbo should taste like. Sign up anytime between now and May 30 for this June 5 event, held at Central Wyoming Fairgrounds.

But, wait! What should you do if your gumbo isn’t actually that good? Check out these four tips that might just give you an edge ...

Good Roux Rules

Any great gumbo begins with an amazing roux. If you don’t know what that is, we might be in trouble. Roux is a simple soup thickener made from flour and oil, but an amazing roux requires constant stirring over low heat – low and slow for up to 45 minutes – until it’s the color of chocolate frosting. Any fat can be used here, from vegetable oil to lard, but avoid olive oil. Here’s a recipe from Emeril to check out.

Pick the Freshest Veggies

For your award-winning gumbo, you want every flavor to pop. Fresh veggies are a great place to continue this trend. Stop by your local farmers market to pick up any fresh ingredients. If one isn’t available, buy your grocery store ingredients as close to cooking time as possible.

Stock Talk

When it’s time to add your chicken stock, don’t reach for that can or box in our pantry. Instead, plan for this step a day or two in advance and cook up your own stock. This can be as complicated as collecting chicken bones in your freezer in the weeks leading up to now or as easy as buying a couple rotisserie chickens from the grocery store and picking the meat off for sandwiches and salads or to add back into your gumbo. Grab your carrots, onions, celery, and parsley from the grocery store. Here’s a recipe from Simple Recipes to get you going.

Don’t Overcook!

When it comes to seafood, less time is best. Shrimp cooks through in mere minutes, so wait until the end to add it. There’s nothing worse than stringy, overcooked shrimp. They do not a winner make.

Got all that? Here's a simple recipe for putting it all together from Tastes Better From Scratch. For more tips on winning competitions and at life, visit the Granite 550 blog!