In South Louisiana, everyone and their mama has a secret family recipe for gumbo. This is my family’s recipe. Gumbo is a veritable one-pot wonder, and has its origins in Choctaw, African, Cajun, and Creole traditions (to name a few). It can be thickened with okra, roux, or gumbo file powder; I personally use all three. While this recipe uses chicken and andouille sausage, you can use any variety of proteins: shrimp, oysters, crabs, tasso. Be warned: this is an all-day process. On football game days, we wake up early and cook it, then bring it to the tailgate. I would encourage everyone to set aside a day to try their hand at making gumbo. It’s hard work that proves worthwhile.
- One whole chicken (can be bought as a pre-cooked rotisserie)
- 4 links andouille sausage
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 onions, diced
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bag (16 oz) frozen okra
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes
- 1 stick of butter
- 4-5 Tbs. flour
- 2 Tbs. Tony Chachere’s Seasoning
- 2 tsp. red pepper
- 2 Tbs. garlic powder
- 2 Tbs. onion powder
- 2 tsp. file powder
- Salt, to taste
- 2 cups rice
Makes 8-10 servings.
If you are opting to roast your own whole chicken, prepare this beforehand and let cool. As gumbo is a labor-intensive process to begin with, I usually buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. Remove the bones, cartilage, skin, and any fat and put it all in a pot. Shred the white and dark meat into bite sized pieces.
In the pot with the inedible chicken parts, fill it almost full with water. Set on the stove top and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least one hour to make the broth. When done, strain the broth into a clean pot.
Meanwhile, saute or grill the andouille sausage, then cut into bite size pieces.
Now time for the roux – this is a butter and flour mixture, cooked until dark, that serves as the base and thickener for the gumbo. Melt half a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle 4-5 tablespoons of flour into the butter, and whisk or stir with a wooden spoon.
Don’t leave the stove for 15-20 minutes. Constantly stir the mixture so that the flour doesn’t burn. By 20 minutes, the roux should be the color of brick red-brown.
Add the bell pepper and onion to the roux, and mix well. Saute for 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
Remove vegetables from pan and set aside. Melt another half-stick of butter in the skillet. Add the okra, still frozen, and cover. Every few minutes, stir. It will be very gooey and gummy.
After 10-15 minutes, once most of the gumminess is gone, add the can of Rotel tomatoes and cook for 5-10 more minutes.
Now assemble everything – roux/onion mixture, okra and tomatoes, sausage, and chicken – into the pot with the broth. Add all of the spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for at least 1-2 hours, up to all day long. The longer it cooks, the more nuanced the flavors.
Serve over rice.
If you’re doing it right, you should see some variation of this:
From my family’s kitchen to yours – enjoy!