Hallmark’s Wes Brown Explains How Gumbo Brings a Cajun Twist to his Thanksgiving
Plus, he has a foolproof method for cooking his roux.
We are in full swing of our favorite season, Hallmark Christmas movie season, of course! We have been watching the most festive network of all, just about twenty-four hours a day. If you’ve been watching along, Wes Brown is sure to be a familiar face. We recently saw him in a pair of movies filmed in our neck of the woods at one of the South’s most popular destinations—Graceland. This year, Brown has hung up his blue suede shoes and is starring opposite Rachel Boston in Check Inn to Christmas, premiering just ahead of Thanksgiving on November 26th. Brown recently spoke to Southern Living by phone and said he felt this feel-good Christmas tale was the perfect way to kick off the holiday week with the whole family. We agree and think we’ll probably have it on as we are prepping the cornbread dressing.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Brown is very familiar with the traditional Thanksgiving meal. But in his family, tradition gets kicked up a notch with a little Cajun twist.
“A tradition that we do have is, my dad passed away in 2006, but something that we did all the time is, the day after Thanksgiving, anything left over from the turkey we would make a turkey gumbo out of. And I have done that every year for as long as I can remember…gumbo really symbolizes cold weather is here, a holiday is here,” he said.
Brown recalled that neither of his parents were strong cooks and didn’t really enjoy it. Menu items for holiday meals would vary. “I remember the first time my wife came to Christmas dinner at my mom’s side, they were ordering pizzas and had ordered all the food. No one cooked anything, just about. Maybe a handful of stuff. But for the most part, not so much. But the turkey gumbo after Thanksgiving, that’s one of the things that stands out.”
As for a recipe for his gumbo? Well, let’s just say Brown has a loose interpretation on that.
“I pretty much wing it. Like any other good Louisiana, Southerner, Cajun would do,” he said with a laugh.
“Everyone has texted, emailed, called ‘how long does it take for you to cook your roux?’ And my answer has always been, two beers. Start stirring. And when you finish your second beer, it should be about done. Give or take, depends on how fast you drink, what you’re drinking, but that’s a good rough estimate. Two beers.”
Brown will serve up bowls of his famous gumbo more than just on Thanksgiving. He also recently made it for friends as they watched his beloved LSU Tigers upset Alabama in an epic SEC matchup that won’t soon be forgotten. But it’s clear that, like many of the dishes native to the South, to Brown, it’s about far more than the ingredients in the pot.
“This is the thing—if there’s ever a gumbo cooking or a crawfish boil, no one makes that dish to say,’get full.’ That dish is made because people are gathering for something good.”
WATCH: Smoked Turkey-and-Andouille Gumbo Recipe
Be sure to gather for something good on Tuesday, November 26th when Check Inn to Christmas premieres on Hallmark Channel.