“Just about every Louisiana kitchen has its version of the soup/stew called gumbo. The name is derived from the African word for “okra” – though it’s not necessary and you will see that this version does not contain any.
“Although various versions contain game, poultry, seafood or a combination thereof, one ingredient common to all is the roux, which is simply the combination of equal parts of flour and fat. It provides both thickening and color to the gumbo.
1-1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
Good quality Creole seasoning
1 cup vegetable oil plus 2 tablespoons, divided use
1 cup flour
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced pepper (I use a combination of green and red bell pepper)
1 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
2 bay leaves
1 ½ pounds good quality smoked andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
8 cups broth (I use a combination of chicken and vegetable)
1 (14 ½-ounce) can of crushed/diced tomato
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
Season chicken thighs with creole seasoning. Sauté chicken is 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until browned. Remove chicken from pot. In pot add flour and 1 cup oil together and stir to combine.
Cook the roux until it develops a medium dark brown color (dark peanut butter). Be careful not to splash the roux on you – it is very hot! Paul Prudhomme refers to it as the “Cajun equivalent of napalm.” While cooking the roux be careful not to allow it to burn – if it does, you must start over. Stirring the roux is a must, and the process can take 30 minutes or more. I have a Cajun friend who likes to time the process in terms of the number of beers consumed. Based on his timing this roux would probably be a 3 to 4 beer roux!
Add vegetables and sauté until translucent. Add cayenne, pepper and salt.
Add broth and stir to dissolve roux. Add bay leaves. Add sausage, browned chicken and tomato.
Simmer, covered, over low heat for 1 – 2 hours.
At the end of cooking turn off heat, add shrimp (if using) and cover the pot.
In 5-10 minutes the shrimp will be cooked and the gumbo ready to eat.
Serve over steamed rice and garnish with thinly sliced green onion.
Note: I am convinced that it is the sausage that makes the gumbo. I use two sources for my andouille. The first is Jacobs in Laplace, La., (www.cajunsausage.com) and the second is The Best Stop in Scott, La., (www.thebeststopsupermarket.com). Both places will ship overnight.
I find that this gumbo is best if made 2-3 days ahead and reheat when ready to serve.
Makes 8-10 servings.
From Sandy White
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