Monday, May 16, 2011

Gumbo, Revisited

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. Last June I made Paula Deen's Gumbo with my friend, Meg, and really enjoyed the final product so I was happy to revisit it. Thank you for the reminder, Denise!

For the challenge, I made a half portion of Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo without the file powder as I couldn't find it locally. I chose to use the full amount of okra since I love its slippery texture and felt like the extra bright green pretties up the gumbo. I reduced the oil at the start a bit more than half and didn't find the texture of the final product to be adversely affected.

I have two tips for you when you make gumbo:
1. When you add the onions to the roux have a snack ready as the mixture smells just like hush puppies and the gumbo won't be ready to eat for quite a while.
2. Don't start gumbo at 7 p.m., especially if you are leaving town at 12:30 a.m. and planning to say hello to the grandparents across town before you leave. Gumbo will win, the grandparents will be sad and you will feel guilty. However, you won't resent the gumbo too much as its savory, smoky flavor is irresistible. Its only drawbacks are the cooking time and the expense of multiple meats. Save it for the weekend and budget wisely but definitely make it.

Since I enjoy the flavor so much I think I'll try a vegetarian version next to see how it compares. I'll let you know.

Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo
Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Serves 5-6

1/3 cup Canola Oil
1/2 cup Flour
1 Large Onion, Diced
1/2 Chicken (1 1/2 to 2 lbs), cut into 5 pieces (I removed whatever skin came off easily but leaving it on is fine.)
1 tablespoon Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
1 pound Spicy Smoked Sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 stalk Celery, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
1 small Tomato, seeded and chopped
1 Cloves Garlic, minced
Leaves from 1 sprig of fresh Thyme
1.5 quarts (6 cups) Chicken Stock (I used defatted homemade stock mixed with veggie broth since that is what I had on hand.)
1 Bay Leaf
3 ounces Andouille Sausage, chopped
2 cups (11 ounces) sliced frozen okra (fresh would work too but it isn’t the time for it in Va.)
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, Pepper, Filé powder and Tabasco, to taste (I didn’t add any of these items!)
4-6 cups Rice or Grain of your Choice

1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using.
2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices. (Recipe below.)
3. Season the chicken pieces with about 1 tablespoon of the Creole.
4. Cut, dice, chop and mince all of your vegetables.
5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the 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. Don’t step away as it will burn!
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 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. If desired, 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.

Basic Creole Spice
From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Makes 1/4 cup. Can be stored for up to 6 months.

1 tablespoon Celery Salt
1/2 tablespoon Sweet Paprika
1/2 tablespoon Coarse Sea Salt
1/2 tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) onion powder
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Ground Allspice

1. Mix together all spices in a bowl.
2. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid.


I chose this song in honor of Gossip Girls' Season Finale tonight. I can't imagine what new drama they will have cooked up this week...


  1. Lucky you, and patient, to revisite gumbo so soon again. Yes it is labor intensive...since I did it with a friend after work and a chat with wine we finished at 9h30 pm. Can,t imagine you having to leave town via a visit lol. Great job!

  2. I love that last photo your gumbo is so dark and delicious, and yes the gumbo will win LOL LOL. Great work on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. it looks wonderful!!! Great job.

  4. Great gumbo gumdrops, that looks amazing! A friend who used to own a restaurant in New Orleans calls onion, celery, and pepper the 'holy trinity', and says gumbo always tastes better the day after you make it, once the spices have 'set in'. Great post!

  5. Evelyne - Thank you! Luckily it isn't very high maintenance for the last hour and a half, so I was able to pack. The process was much more fun with a friend and wine.

    Audax - Thank you. Dark and delicious is a great description for gumbo.

    Andy - Thank you! It was wonderful.

    Paul - It was amazing. Come eat some. ;) I can't wait to try it now that it has matured though it is hard to imagine it tasting better than it did when I tried it while cooking.

  6. Yum that is one delicious looking gumbo! Great job!

  7. I think this is the first time I've ever heard of someone liking the okra slime lol Your gumbo looks amazing, and I love your tips. I'm glad I had someone else add the onions to my roux due to an important phoine call! I hope you saved some for your gradnparents! :)

  8. Lisa Michele - I assume it is because I grew up eating fried okra on special occasions. I'm glad you liked my tips and that you had assistance. I didn't share this batch but maybe next time...

  9. Great take on this challenge. I think you were wise on the oil. Not sure how the roux would brown, but even with the full measure of oil, the servings were small enough to be ok. I know, isn't this a time killer! Can't believe you did it on the way out of town! Like your new look.

  10. Sarah - Thank you. The oil seemed overwhelming and I'm trying to keep an eye out things so I'm glad it worked out. I may have to try the roux all out at a later date. A delicious time killer indeed...

  11. Aha, I should have got some snacks ready for when I added the onions. It might have stopped me constantly stealing scoops of gumbo from the pan as it cooked.

    Mm, your gumbo looks so rich and tasty. That last photo is calling to me!

  12. Suzler - That is exactly what I was thinking. I suspect I ate a serving of gumbo in tastes. Thank you!