In a large heavy saucepan melt the lard, and sift in the flour. Cook to a deep golden brown, and add half of the onion, celery, capsicum, leek and garlic, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Gradually pour on the boiling stock, stirring to keep the mixture smooth, and add the remaining half of the vegetables. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, and then add the shellfish. Cook for 10 more minutes, and then bring to the boil; stir in the filé powder, and remove from the heat immediately.
Allow it to stand for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to mature. Serve over boiled rice.
If you cannot get filé, a fine green powder of dried sassafras leaves, add half a dozen or so okra pods, sliced, when you add the vegetables. These will add the necessary texture, which is more than just the thickening achieved with the roux – rather a smooth, almost gelatinous silky quality.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.