Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

We moved to Mandeville, Louisiana (just outside of New Orleans) just a day before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. We were there for just a year but the experiences we had in helping to rebuild, the friendships we made and of course the food, will always be a part of us. So this month when the Daring Cooks announced the challenge was Gumbo, I was pretty excited. I had some great gumbo while we were in New Orleans but I've never tried to make it myself.

The key with this recipe is to follow the directions precisely. The roux is a critical part of the dish and can quickly go wrong if you're not paying attention.  Keep whisking it and be patient. You want the deep chocolate brown color but you also don't want to burn it. Do it right and you'll have a flavorful roux that makes for an amazing bowl of gumbo, a true New Orleans classic.

Drew's Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo
adapted from John Besh's My New Orleans: The Cookbook

1 cup rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons Basic Creole Spices blend
2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 quarts Chicken Stock
2 bay leaves
6 ounces andouille sausage, chopped
2 cups sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste
Tabasco, to taste

Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes. 

Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.

Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.

Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste. Remove all the chicken pieces and let cool slightly so that you can handle it. Pull meat of the bones and tear into small pieces and return the meat to the pot.

Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.


  1. You moved to the NOLA area a day before Katrina, wow. That is just crazy. Glad to see you made it out with your cooking skills intact. Great looking gumbo you made for the challenge.

  2. That is a great tale moving to the "Big Easy" the day before Katrina but it seems that it the end it was a good experience for you.

    Your gumbo sounds and looks so delicious well done, marvellous work on this.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. This looks fantatic. I will bet it tastes as good as it looks. Have you ever made a roux in the oven? What a wonderful story. Ya'll are truly survivors.