Lingering a little longer in my Gumbo Shop cookbook after sharing the White Remoulade recipe, I decided to cook up a steaming pot of rib-stickin’, bone-warmin’, spicy chicken and andouille gumbo. Gumbo is probably the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Cajun cookin’.
Gumbo is a thick, murky, dark soup with various combinations of star ingredients added to a base of a roux, herbs, spices and “The Holy Trinity” of onions, celery and green bell pepper. A true gumbo for me must contain okra. I know there are those who hate okra so much that they liken it to all sorts of disgusting things and wouldn’t dream of putting it in their mouths. Do as you wish but remember that the word “gumbo” is probably derived from the Bantu (Angolan) word (ki)ngombo, meaning okra. That being said, let’s continue with our Cajun creation.
Making a gumbo can be a religious experience and shouldn’t be attempted when you’re short on time. Most will agree that any gumbo will begin with a dark roux and can be thickened further with the okra or filé powder (ground sassafras leaves). Not wanting to be exclusive, I use all three.
A roux can range anywhere from the color of peanut butter to that of a rich, dark coffee. A wise thing to remember is that the darker you make your roux, the closer you teeter on disaster, or a burnt roux with no salvation. Some recommend actually making a sacrificial burnt roux to experience the stages leading up to the tipping point. Once you have your righteously rendered roux, the rest is pretty much easy-peasy.
Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
Adapted from: Gumbo Shop: A New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook
- 2-2½ pounds (900 – 1150 gr) boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound (455 gr.) fresh or frozen okra
- ½ cup (120 ml.) oil
- ½ cup (120 ml.) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (480 ml.) chopped onions
- 1 cup (240 ml.) chopped green bell pepper
- ½ cup (120 ml.) chopped celery
- 1 16-oz. (455 gr.) can of chopped tomatoes (I swear by Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes)
- 1 lb. (455 gr.) andouille sausage sliced into ¼-inch (about .6 cm.) rounds (Carlton Farms in Carlton, Ore., makes my favorite local andouille)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) dried basil
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml.) dried sage
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml.) freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml.) freshly ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml.) cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) salt
- 1-1½ quarts (1-1½ l.) low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) filé powder
- Cooked white rice
- Now is the time to say a brief prayer for you and your roux, then proceed with all your confidence and faith. Heat the oil in a heavy pot large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the flour slowly while constantly whisking and making sure there are no lumps. Continue whisking while watching the color change in your roux through the lighter stages all the way to a dark coffee stage. Be patient and expect this to take about as long as it takes to drink one beer or iced tea, whatever wets your whistle.
- Once your roux is perfect, offer a quick prayer of gratitude, then add the onions, bell pepper and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally until they are tender and a little bit caramelized. (The addition of these vegetables quickly cools the roux and stops it from cooking further.)
- When the vegetables are tender, add the tomatoes, andouille, chicken and okra (thawed if frozen) stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients with the exception of the filé powder and bring to a slow boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. (Add more stock if the gumbo is too thick, remembering that it is supposed to be a thick consistency but not dry.)
- Stir in the filé powder when the gumbo is ready to serve.
The proper ratio of gumbo to rice is left to personal taste. You might query your guests as to their preference or let them add their own rice at the table. I prefer my gumbo ladled over the rice. A crisp green salad is all you need to make a complete meal.
We enjoyed this with a cold brew from Rogue Ales Brewery called Kells Irish Style Lager, just the right taste to temper the spiciness of the gumbo. Alas, the days are gone when you could enjoy it with a cool Jax Beer from New Orleans. The Jax Beer link will take you to a commercial for the brew from the 1960s. There are a series of these old TV commercials made by the talented team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
Bless this gumbo, amen and bon appetít
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities