How To Make a “SASSY” Gumbo.
About three years ago I ordered crawfish and had them shipped from Louisiana to California. My plan was to have a little crawfish boil and make a nice pot of seafood gumbo. As it turns out, one of my guests had a shellfish allergy. Naturally I panicked a little bit. Then I decided to research chicken and sausage gumbo. I had never made it before but as with everything I have ever cooked, at one time or another, I had never made it before.
I found a few recipes I liked and I took pieces of each of those that I liked and created my own. I decided to add more meat and incorporate more than just plain chicken and sausage, change up some seasonings, etc.
This gumbo was such a hit that I now have “Gumbo Parties” a couple times a year. Depending on what I can get my hands on, the meats always change a bit but my basic recipe has for the most part remained the same.
It’s time to MAKE THE GUMBO!!!
2 Pounds Smoked Sausage. Sliced about 1/4 inch thick.I mix it up. This time I used 1/2 pound Andouille, 1/2 Pound Pork Smoked Sausage and 1 Pound Turkey, Beef and Pork Smoked Sausage. I prefer the pork sausages and have also used pork and alligator sausage in the past.
4 Pounds Chicken Thighs. On the bone, skin and excess fat removed.
1 Pound Alligator Nuggets. Nuggets, Fillets or Legs. (this time I did not use alligator. I didn’t have it)
1 1/4 Cups Chopped White Onion
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Yellow Onion
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Bell Pepper
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Celery
10 to 12 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Flour (a bit more just in case)
3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil.
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
4 to 6 Bay Leaves. Personal preference – how much bay leaf to you like?
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cajun Seasoning Blend – I use Emeril’s Essence. It’s ALL IN THERE!
1 Cup Chopped Green Onion
1/3 Cup Chopped Parsley
4 Cups Cooked White Rice. Cook as desired. I keep this simple and cook the rice in water or chicken stock with a touch of butter & 1 bay leaf per cup of uncooked rice.
File – also known as Gumbo File.
I HIGHLY recommend having everything prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. Once you start, it needs to be a smooth progression so that you don’t lose your flavors by having to stop and start, etc. The green onion, parsley and rice can wait a bit. You’ll have a few hours of idle time to do this.
Season chicken thighs liberally on both sides with your chosen seasoning mix and set aside for now.
Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil to a large stock pot and bring up temperature over medium to medium high heat. Working in batches, brown the sausage. Some will be crispy looking and some just a little cooked. Set on paper towel lined plate to drain.
Once you have browned all the sausage, once again working in batches, brown the chicken thighs on both sides. You’re not trying to cook it, just sort of sear it. Set it aside to cool a bit then put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready for it.
Next , reduce heat to medium and add about 1/2 of the remaining oil. SLOWLY stir in the flour, about a 1/4 cup at a time. THEN alternate a little more oil, a little more flour while stirring well. Keep stirring for about 20 minutes. You should have a nice milk chocolate brown roux. There will be stuff burned onto the bottom of the pot. DO NOT RINSE THE POT. You need those flavors. Seems silly but it really does add a lot. It will “deglaze” as you add the stock in the next step.
When the roux is ready, add the celery, peppers and onions. Stir will and get them all coated and gooey with the roux. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the cayenne, salt and pepper and then slowly add stock. Add the stock a little at a time while stirring. Adding it slowly keeps your roux from clumping like bad gravy. Once it’s loose and liquid, you can add the stock a bit faster and toss in the bay leaf. Add 10 cups and up to 12 depending on the size of your pot and the consistency you want. You can add 10 now and the remaining 2 later if you’d like.
Add sausage and simmer for 1 hour. Stirring occasionally.
Add Chicken and simmer for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Add Alligator, if using and simmer for 1 more hour. Again, stirring occasionally.
Using slotted spoon, remove chicken and/or alligator if using, from pot and set aside to cool slightly. Remove chicken from the bone and chop or shred then return to pot and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning. Be a little careful here. The flavors will continue to develop and it’s always easy to add salt and pepper later but removing it…. not so much.
Add the parsley, and about a Tbsp of file powder. Stir again.
Scoop desired amount of rice into a bowl, pour hot gumbo over the rice and top with chopped green onion. Serve with hot sauce and file powder on the table. Sometimes a couple shakes of each adds a nice touch. **
**I make my gumbo one to two days in advance. It keeps well and the “sitting” time really let’s those flavors “Do Their Thing”.
I like to serve gumbo with lobster or crawfish. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it big.