Saturday, May 14, 2011

Daring Cooks: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.
I was absolutely thrilled and intimidated with this month's Daring Cooks challenge. My stepmother's family is from Louisiana and every Christmas Eve her mother makes gumbo for dinner. At first I thought it was a bit odd. I'm not sure I ate much of it that first year. But, quickly I came to like it and then looked forward to it as the holiday season began. Grandma has now retired from doing the big gumbo dinners. Perhaps it's time I take the reigns and learn to make gumbo myself. I think it would be a fun tradition to keep up for my family.

The roux totally intimidated me. In most other ways gumbo seems like a big stew and how hard is it to mess up stew, but the roux is the crux.
Roux at 1 min, 3 min, 8 min, 10 min, and 15 min
I was happy to find some fellow cooks posting photos of their roux at different stages. This helped me as I began cooking mine. A roux consists of some kind of fat, I used canola oil, and flour. You whisk them together for 15 minutes until the roux becomes are dark brown color. I know it doesn't sound that hard but you spend the whole time worrying you're burning it and afraid of it splattering on you. I got one little oil splatter that turned into a little water blister burn. Ouch! My step-mom uses a cast iron pot and flat ended wooden spoon to make her roux.
Roux and onions

 Once I added the onions and saw that my picture looked a lot like the example, I felt better. I then added the Creole-seasoned chicken and sausage followed by the vegetables. After letting it all meld for a bit I added the stock and let it simmer for two hours. The house smelled fantastic, very... Christmasy. LOL.

I had my step-mom and dad over to dinner for this meal. My step-mom who has been eating gumbo her whole life declared it good and my dad and husband went back for seconds. A success!! Charlotte (3) wasn't into it, but Penelope (18 months) kept demanding more sausage from my bowl. A future gumbo eater for sure! Now that I've done it once it doesn't feel so hard. Perhaps I have Christmas Eve dinner already figured out!

Great challenge! Thank you!!

Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo
Printable Recipe 

Adapted From: Daring Cooks  and From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh

1 cup  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 (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch 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)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
4-6 cups cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)

1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using (recipe below).
2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using (recipe below).
3. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.
4. 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.
5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat 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.
6. 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.
7. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
8. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.
9. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
10. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
11. 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.
12. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
13. 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.

Louisiana White Rice
Servings: 4 cups
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or butter
1 small onion, minced
1½ cups Louisiana (or another long-grain white rice)
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 pinches salt

1. Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
4. Add the bay leaf and salt.
5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

Basic Creole Spices
Adapted From: Daring Cooks and From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Printable Recipe

Makes ½ cup
2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice

Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.


  1. Your gumbo looks fabulous! And, I like how you showed the progression of your roux!

  2. WOW it would be good to keep the Christmas tradition going. Your roux making abilities are stunning well done it seems liked you mastered the technique.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. I love the progession pic with the spoons!

  4. After looking at baked goods all day, it is rather wonderful to come upon savory ones now and this that looks good.

  5. I forgot to say that I loved the photo of the spoon test for the coloration...that is such a great visual...thanks!


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