Nothing beats a good bowl of gumbo, ever. A few weeks ago, when we were traveling to Oklahoma for Christmas, I asked Paul what his favorite thing to eat in New Orleans was. I was thinking that my personal favorite was a seafood po-boy, but Paul answered without a second of hesitation, "Gumbo." It's true that our city is the best at making gumbo. There's nothing quite like it for the combination of comfort, soul-edifying flavor, and use of traditional ingredients that it offers. It's taken a long time for me to post a recipe for gumbo on this site, and it's with good reason. We've been making gumbo for years and have tried all sorts of approaches, but we've got a good one here that's sure to please. When you make gumbo, make a big pot and don't take any shortcuts. It's worth it; your New Orleans soul will thank you.
A few things we've learned about making gumbo:
- Make the roux in a skillet instead of the pot, if possible. The skillet is shallow and allows the best angle for stirring with a whisk: it won't splatter up on your arms. Whisking is preferred to spoon-stirring, because the holes in the whisk let the hot oil pass right through, which minimizes splatters and burns.
- Start the roux at a high heat and gradually reduce the heat as it turns darker. This will help you get a dark-chocolate colored roux in about 30 minutes, as opposed to an hour and a half (I've done that. Not cool.).
- Never, ever add hot roux to a pot of hot stock. We tried this once as a shortcut and Paul got badly burned arms. Picture a roux volcano. Now picture yourself never doing this.
- We prefer seared sausage and chicken pieces to sausage and chicken boiled in the pot from a raw state. Seared sausage and chicken retain their shape and texture, plus add a nice caramelized flavor to the gumbo. We've made many gumbos by simmering the chicken and it just turns out kind of dry and stringy.
- No tomatoes. Just....no.
- Okra can be left in large slices, because it will shrink down quite a bit during simmering. I've read some recipes that recommend sauteeing the okra before adding it to the pot, with the purpose of eliminating sliminess. But for me, the sliminess is what thickens the gumbo, so I sure don't want to get rid of it. If you're not an okra fan, omit it and set out some file powder for people to sprinkle over their individual bowls of gumbo. It will produce a similar thickening effect (I always prefer the vegetableish thickening of okra, though).
food orleans chicken and andouille gumbo
- 1 cup canola oil, plus a tablespoons for sauteeing
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 medium green peppers, diced
- 6 stalks celery, sliced
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (include about half the seeds)
- 4 quarts chicken stock or broth
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced in thin circles
- 2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1 1/2" pieces
- cajun or creole seasoning, about 3 Tablespoons (such as Tony Chachere's)
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh okra, sliced 1" thick (or frozen, sliced)
- for seasoning: salt and black pepper, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce (all optional: you might not need any!)
- for serving: cooked white rice, minced parsley
- Make the roux (have the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and jalapeno chopped and ready): In a cast iron skillet, combine the flour and 1 cup of oil and heat over high heat, stirring with a whisk to break up the flour. Continue cooking and whisking constantly until the roux is a rich peanut butter color, about 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until roux is a milk chocolate color (another 5 to 10 minutes). Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until roux is a dark chocolate color, another 5 to 10 minutes, verging on molasses color. When it hits the molasses zone, you're in roux heaven. Dump in all the vegetables to keep the roux from burning, and stir everything together until the vegetables are quite soft, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the roux and vegetables to an 8-quart stockpot. Add the stock, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer partially covered for about 20 minutes, while you get the chicken and sausage ready.
- Wipe out the cast iron skillet. Heat 1 Tablespoon canola oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, then add the sausage in batches and cook until well-browned on both sides. As each batch is browned, transfer to the gumbo pot with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil in the skillet.
- Add the chicken to the skillet in small batches, seasoning each batch with Creole seasoning as you add it to the pan. Sear until well-browned on all sides. As each batch is browned, transfer to the gumbo pot with a slotted spoon.
- Simmer the gumbo with the sausage and chicken added for about 15 minutes, then add the sliced okra. Simmer for another 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. From time to time, skim the excess oil from the top. It will look like glass floating on top of the liquid. There's a cup of oil in the roux, so you'll end up with about a cup of skimmed oil to discard.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire, and Tabasco as you see fit. If you seasoned each batch of chicken well with the Creole seasoning, you might not need any extra seasoning. Pat yourself on the back at this point.
- Serve in shallow bowls with a scoop of hot rice and parsley and green onions scattered over the top. Invite your friends.
serves 10 to 16 more like 6-8, depending on whether it's a starter or a meal. Gumbo makes a great meal with a green salad and French bread. It also freezes like a gem.