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Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

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Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

We call this "South of I-10 Style"

This is a very basic gumbo that I learned many years ago from a dear lady in LaPlace, Louisiana. She was quite an authority on gumbo and its many styles. She and her far-flung Louisiana family put a lot of energy into “discussion” of one style versus another. This dark and sultry style is a favorite for poultry and sausage of whatever type. We made up the term “South of I-10 Style” because she claims it is more prevalent the further south you go. Turkey is often the bird in question after Thanksgiving. Duck often shows up after a successful hunt. It is not a thick gumbo, due to the very dark roux losing some thickening power in the process, and the vegetables just about disappear. File is often offered at the table for addition to the diner’s liking. The recipe is a good starting point. Endless variations are possible. I have included some techniques that might help achieve that dark roux.

  • 1 c vegetable oil (peanut or canola)
  • 1 c flour
  • 2 c chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped celery
  • 1 c chopped green bell pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 6 c chicken broth (hopefully homemade but Swanson brand will do)
  • 1 lb smoked sausage (kielbasa or andouille) cut crosswise into 1/2" slices
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning (your favorite brand will do)
  • 1 lb chicken meat cut into 1” chunks (best to use thigh meat)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Chopped green onion, parsley, and file for serving (optional)
  • White rice for serving (NOT optional)

About the pot:

Don’t even start this unless you have a proper pot, that means heavy. Heavy cast iron is the classic. Enameled cast iron (like Le Creuset) is better because it is easier to judge the color of the roux. Heavy aluminum like Calphalon also works.

First you chop your Trinity:

Chop the onion, celery and peppers into relatively uniform ¼” chop. Season with the salt and cayenne and set aside… close to the stove. (You will see why in a minute.)

Now you make a roux:

Combine the oil and flour in your pot and stir together until there are no lumps. It should be liquid enough that it flows well as you stir. Add more oil if necessary. Turn the heat to medium high on a wimpy range or maybe medium on a better burner and start stirring. I recommend using a wooden spatula rather than a spoon as that tool does a better job of sweeping the bottom and corners of the pot. Oh, by the way, you can’t stop stirring so you best go pee before you start this. I call this a “2 beer roux” That means that you can drink 2 beers before it is ready. I find that it takes me about 30 to 40 minutes to get there, but then I have done this a lot. Better to go slow until you gain some experience.

When the roux gets to the color of a Hershey Bar, you are ready to go. WARNING: The slightly reddish Hershey Bar color is very close to burning. If black flecks appear, you have burned it and blown it. Start over.

Makin’ Gumbo:

Dump the seasoned Trinity into the roux all at once and stir like crazy. That is why I told you to keep this by the stove. If you are getting close to burning the roux, this drops the temperature and keeps it from burning. There will be a lot of steamin’ and sputterin’ going on but this has a lot to do with the flavor development. The high heat hitting the vegetables and cayenne makes a flavor difference.

Continue to stir and cook for about five minutes until the vegetables are wilted.

Add the sausage and bay leaves, continue stirring and cooking for about five minutes.

Slowly add the broth (it should be cool) stirring continuously to incorporate.

Reduce heat and maintain a slow simmer for two hours, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, season the chicken meat with the Cajun seasoning. Add it to the pot and simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally.

Excess oil may break out. Skim off if you wish.

Check seasoning and add salt if necessary.

Serving:

Stir in chopped green onion and parsley and serve over white rice. File on the table for adding is optional.

NOTE:

You can use commercially available roux. (It is really quite good.) The trick will be to get it up to a high enough temperature to sear the trinity/cayenne mixture without burning it. I think making the roux yourself is more fun. It tests your intestinal fortitude… “How close can I get to burning before I dump in those vegetables?”

You can double this recipe if your pot is big enough. I usually do because this is a bit of trouble and it freezes well. If you freeze leftovers, add the parsley and green onion only to the portions you serve. Parsley and green onion should always be added fresh.

If you are using previously cooked bird, such as the leftovers from the Thanksgiving turkey, add the cooked turkey meat within the last half hour of the process. If you cook previously cooked meat in the gumbo too long it gets all broken up and stringy. It will still taste good. It is just ugly when that happens. Hopefully, you have made good stock with the bird bones. If it was smoked bird, remove most of the dark smoked skin before making the stock so the stock won't have too strong a smoke flavor.

For a truly fascinating experience of gumbo cooking around the world, the Gumbo Ya Ya Cook-Off topic is not to be missed.

Keywords: Main Dish, Intermediate, Chicken, Lunch, Dinner, American

( RG772 )

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