Russell Davis' award winning Gumbo Ya-Ya. Photo courtesy Eliza Restaurant and Bar.

Stirring up a good pot of gumbo with Eliza Restaurant and Bar

With lows reaching into the 50s this weekend and National Gumbo Day happening Saturday, we think it’s officially time to thank God for the fact that we finally have some sweater weather here in Baton Rouge. And what goes great with a cozy sweater and a weekend full of LSU and Saints football? That’s right: gumbo. It’s a beloved and highly anticipated sign of the season, truly the créme de la créme in terms of cold-weather food. And with so many styles and variations of the Cajun delicacy, which is either served over rice or with potato salad, gumbo has the ability to appeal to all sorts of taste buds, connecting people all across the state.

Here in Baton Rouge, we are fortunate enough to be home to Eliza Restaurant and Bar, a local establishment that has been hailed by USA Today for serving up a delicious version of the popular dish. We sat down with head chef and owner Russell Davis to find out his secrets behind one of the state’s best bowls of gumbo.

Remember that good things take time.

“The biggest tip I have regarding gumbo is to take the time to do it right; in other words, have patience,” says Davis.

Have patience when sourcing ingredients: Using Gulf seafood, local andouille and fresh okra makes the biggest differences.

Have patience when cooking: In order to get the roux just the right color, allow the gumbo to simmer on low for a while without rushing the process, or even cook it a day ahead to allow the flavors to elevate overnight in the fridge.

There’s a reason gumbo serves so many.

At home, Davis often serves gumbo as a main course with salad, good French bread and a bottle of wine–he suggests a bold white with seafood or a fruity red with meat. However, aside from the wine, Davis explains that the best way to have gumbo is with loved ones.

“Enjoying with family and friends over a lively conversation just feels like the right way to enjoy a pot of gumbo,” explains Davis. “Its important to take the time and really enjoy it!”

If you want to ring in National Gumbo Day the right way but don’t have time to make a roux or you’re not the best in the kitchen, visit Eliza on Jefferson Highway and try out some of Davis’ gumbo for yourself.

And be sure to tag us in all of your #gumbo posts on Instagram, @inregister, and let us know what you think the secret to a great gumbo is in the comments below.