Some of my fondest memories are from when I lived and worked in Louisiana. The people of Louisiana and their food mesmerized me and when I think of Louisiana I think of gumbo.
When people outside of Louisiana think of gumbo, they typically think of seafood gumbo but gumbo is made from a variety of different meats. You see, gumbo originated as a poor people’s food that used whatever was available. Any combination of meat or seafood can be used. In addition to the seafood based gumbos that use shrimp, crabmeat, crawfish and sometimes oysters, gumbos may consist of chicken, duck, squirrel, or rabbit, with oysters occasionally added. Andouille sausage is also often added to provide a little spice, substance, and additional depth of flavor. I have a friend of mine that makes a smoked duck gumbo that is killer. Some gumbos use okra; whereas, others don’t but one common element in all gumbos is the “Holy Trinity,” diced onions, bell peppers and celery. Gumbo combines the culinary practices of French, Spanish, native tribes, and African slaves and has moved from a poor man’s dish to a gourmet treat. I really enjoy gumbos.
This dish is a chicken and sausage gumbo. It came about in the days when I couldn’t afford the seafood to put into seafood file gumbo. This has a ton of flavor and is easy on your pocket book. It is well worth the time and effort to make. I hope you give it a try.
- 1 chicken (3+ lbs), cut into 10 pieces
- 1 Tbsp sea salt salt
- 1/2 Tbsp Garlic powder
- 1/2 Tbsp Cayenne
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 large bell pepper, diced
- 3/4 cup celery, diced
- 3/4 cup carrots diced (I realize carrots don’t go into traditional gumbo but I personally like the added depth of flavor)
- 2/3 cup peanut oil (use 3/4 cup if baking your roux)
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1/4 cup Canola oil (don’t use if baking roux)
- 2 Qts chicken stock (preferably homemade)
- 1/2 pound andouille smoked sausage, cut into 1/4 rounds
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Cooked white rice
Before you start make a decision on how you are going to make the roux. You have two choices. First, do it the traditional painstaking method of cooking it over low heat on the stove. If you like to play with your food, then this is the method you will prefer. I’ve done it countless times. It takes roughly 1 hour to do it this way, stirring constantly. Second, simply to take the oil and flour, mix them together, and place them in a 400 F oven for 1 hour. As far as I am concerned (after having done both), you get the same result. The ONLY differences are that if you do it the traditional painstaking method 1) you run the risk of scorching or burning the flour unless you stand on top of it for the entire time continually whisking; and 2) you can use the rendered fat from the chicken for part of the oil. The rendered fat from the chicken will provide you a little more depth of flavor. Personally, I opt for the bake it in the oven option but it’s up to you. If you’re going to bake it then make the roux as the very first step. By the time the roux is done, you will have done all of your prep work and it will be time to rock and roll.
Clean chicken, remove all of the excess fat and cut into 10 pieces. You should have 2 wings, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, and 4 pieces of breast meat (you cut the breasts in half otherwise they are simply too large). Combine the 2 Tbsp salt, 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder and 1/2 Tbsp cayenne in a small bowl. Season the pieces on both sides with the salt, garlic powder and cayenne. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour while you are making your roux.
While the chicken is marinating in the dry marinade, dice your veggies and put in a medium size bowl until ready for use.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 3 Tablespoons of peanut oil to the pot, then add the chicken pieces in batches and cook until golden brown on each side, roughly 3 – 5 minutes per side.
If you are going to make the roux the traditional painstaking method, then when the last batch of chicken is done, pour off the rendered fat into a heavy bottom skillet (preferable cast iron) over medium heat. Add the remaining peanut oil and 3/4 cup flour and begin whisking frequently until the flour turns a uniform deep, rich, brown color. Some people get it almost black but I don’t like it that way as the flour begins to taste burnt. This is going to take a while. Also be darn careful not to let this splash on your skin while whisking. Hot roux is like napalm in that it sticks to your skin and will burn you severely. When you get the roux to the color of your choice, remove it from the heat and immediately add the reserved veggies. Remember just be cause you take to roux off the heat, it still has significant residual heat and the flour is continuing to cook along with the veggies. So, stir the roux and veggies constantly until the roux stops getting darker.
If you used the traditional method of making brown roux, return pan to low heat and cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the pan bottom well. If you baked your roux, add the brown roux to the dutch oven you used to cook the chicken and add the veggies. Place over medium heat and cook until the veggies are soft, stirring constantly scraping the bottom for roughly 10 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, to the hot roux and whisk to incorporate. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the andouille and minced garlic. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking to the bottom.
While the gumbo is simmering, bone the cooked chicken and cut the meat into chunky pieces. Add the chicken to the pot, cook an additional 10 – 15 minutes and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To Serve: Mound 1/3 cup cooked rice in the center of a soup bowl; ladle about 1 1/4 cups gumbo around the rice. Slice some chives and sprinkle on the top. Enjoy with a nice white wine or a frosty cold beer.