Cooking Louisiana  -  Ruby's Christmas Oyster Gumbo
Ruby's Christmas Oyster Gumbo

Submitted by: C. Daigle
Bayou Blue - Lafourche Parish, LA - USA

An old Christmas tradition in “Ruby [my mother-in-law's]" home is now a Christmas tradition in our home. This makes a huge pot of gumbo and it does freeze very well, that is, if you have any left. We start eating it on Christmas Eve night and it's usually all gone the day after Christmas. "Mom" told me that when she was a young child, around the holidays, the seafood man would pass in a wagon pulled by a horse in the rural community of Bayou Blue near Houma, LA. They would sometimes purchase whatever he had to sell that day. Around Christmas, her mother would get a gallon of oysters for the gumbo. "That was when a gallon was really a gallon", she told me. She didn't recall if her mother, "Granny" to us, came up with the recipe or if it came from Granny's grandmother. Regardless of who started the tradition it has been gratefully continued in our family. Mom made this recipe especially for me since I had attempted it a couple of times and my results fell very short of her excellent gumbo.

1 cup oil
1 & 3/4 cup plain flour
2 or 3 large onions, chopped
1 & 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 green bell pepper, chopped
water or chicken broth
1 to 2 gallons oysters and juice
1 cup chopped green onion tops
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon gumbo filé
salt and pepper to taste

In at least a 12 quart pot make a roux of flour and oil until the color of peanut butter, no darker. Add onion and cook 15 to 20 minutes longer. Roux will darken more. Stir often. Add celery and green pepper and cook 15 minutes. Add about 1 quart of water or broth and stir to thicken gravy. Slow simmer, covered, as long as it takes for seasonings to nearly disintegrate, about 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Note: Gravy will decrease in volume. Drain oysters and hold the juice on the side. Add oysters to pot and 'smother', covered, about 15 minutes. Add oyster juice, water and/or broth to make gumbo consistency. (I nearly fill the pot). Taste and add salt, pepper and hot sauce, if desired. Heat the pot to simmering, cover, and simmer 5 minutes. Turn off the heat; add green onion tops, parsley, and sprinkle filé over the top. DO NOT STIR FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES.

Makes 12 quarts.

Serve over hot rice.


1. If you wash the oysters, save the water and strain along with any oyster juice and use as part of the liquid of the gumbo. I use an old clean stocking to strain.

2. If you use the two gallons of oysters, you should increase the other ingredients a little and the size of the pot.

3. The gumbo will be a light color. If you want to cheat, you can add Kitchen Bouquet to make it darker. It does not affect the taste.

4. Stirring while the pot is too hot with the filé added can make the gumbo have a slimy consistency. Let the pot cool a little before stirring.

Number Of Servings: Depends on how cold it is outside.

Preparation Time: 2 hours