Today, my friend Ben is guest blogging with recipe for chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. I’m so excited to have my first guest contributor on Sweetly Seasoned, and my thanks goes out to Ben for sharing such a delicious looking dish!
Gumbo is the backbone of Cajun cuisine and the life’s blood of culture in Louisiana. It is often used as a metaphor to describe the mixture of all the different cultures in southern Louisiana, including French, Spanish, Native tribes and enslaved Africans. There are many different gumbo variations and traditions based on locality, family history and personal taste. Gumbo recipes are often passed down through families and adapt and change to the next generation.
There is a running joke in my family that we could draw a family tree based on how my granny’s recipe has been interpreted by the aunts, uncles, and many cousins. My granny raised six children to adulthood, all of whom changed different aspects of the gumbo recipe. Each of those six children raised children of their own and taught them their method of cooking gumbo. As this tradition was passed down to my generation, my cousins and I adapted the recipe as we saw fit.
The roux is the most important aspect of any gumbo because it determines the character, texture and flavor profile. The darker the roux, the deeper and more complex the resulting flavor will be. Making a roux is like playing a game of chicken with yourself to see how dark you can get it without burning the edges. Most people make roux on the stove top, but my mother taught me to bake it in the microwave while stirring at intervals to have more control over the process. I often start it in the microwave and finish it on the stove.
Onions, celery and bell peppers are known as the “trinity” of Cajun cuisine. When garlic is added to the equation it is known as the “holy trinity.” Okra and file (ground sassafras root) are used primarily as thickening agents, although they definitely contribute flavor.
More than an important cultural food, gumbo is intrinsically linked with family history and personal narratives. When I cook gumbo, not only am I honoring my grandmother, my mother and all my aunts and uncles, but also my future children and the children they will one day have. It’s what ties my family together; past, present and future.
Mama’s Gumbo Recipe
This recipe will make enough for about 8-10 people (on the conservative side). Adjust amounts accordingly.
Instructions are for a chicken-sausage gumbo. Substitutions for a seafood gumbo are below.
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, mixed in a bowl with Tony’s Seasoning
- 2 lbs. andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices (Amy’s Chicken Andouille Sausage is great for this)
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 10 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 6-8 okra pods
- 4 bay leaves
- Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
- Gumbo file- a couple of tablespoons added to the pot some time before serving or can be sprinkled into individual bowls. It is a flavoring agent as well as thickening agent.
- To make the Roux (microwave oven is the easiest): Combine oil and flour in a Pyrex bowl (do not cover). Stir the oil and flour together until smooth. Place in the microwave for 6 min. Take out VERY CAREFULLY (IT WILL BE EXTREMELY HOT, USE GLOVED POT HOLDERS). Stir until smooth and color is consistent throughout. Place back into the microwave for 1 min. increments doing the same stirring each time until the color of the roux is a dark chocolate brown. You may want to taper to 30 sec. increments as the roux darkens so as not to burn it. (On the stove top: heat a pot over medium heat and cook roux STIRRING CONSTANTLY until it is the right color).
- Transfer the Roux from the Pyrex bowl into a very large heavy pot on the stove. Add onions and garlic and cook for about 5 min. to soften. Add bell pepper, okra and celery to the pot. Cook until soft and almost all of the water from the veggies is cooked off.
- Add chicken breast and brown the outsides slightly. Pour in chicken stock slowly, 2 cups at a time, stirring to integrate into the roux. You may add up to 4 cups of water, or more, depending on the thickness of the gumbo you desire. Add the sausage and bay leaves. Sprinkle more Tony’s to cover the surface of the gumbo.
- From this point, you will have to taste the gumbo as it cooks to determine if you want more Tony’s or just salt. Cook for a couple of hours to integrate the flavors, stirring occasionally.
If making seafood gumbo, follow the same directions and add whatever seafood you like after the water.
- Crab: 1-2 lbs. of lump and claw meat or as much as you can afford
- Oysters-shrimp (peeled and de-veined): about 3 pounds or as much as you can afford. Add the shrimp about 30 min. before serving so as not to over-cook.
Serve in individual bowls with about an ice cream scoop of long grained white rice.
EAT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND ENJOY!!