The first time I ever tried to make gumbo was before I had actually ever eaten it. I didn’t
know care about browning the flour and skipped this step. It turns out this step is somewhat essential to the process. The end result, although very edible, didn’t resemble gumbo in the least. That experience scared me from away from attempting to make gumbo (really it was the roux that made me nervous) for a long time.
Many years later I moved to New Orleans where great gumbo abounds. The original recipe, which I’ve adapted over the years, was given to me by a former co-worker when I lived in the Big Easy and makes its own roux. It is reportedly from the owners of Christian’s Restaurant in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans.
Over time, I have fine-tuned this recipe and toned it down from restaurant-size quantities to something more manageable for the standard home kitchen. I sometimes use the Thanksgiving turkey carcass to make stock and then use leftover turkey instead of chicken. Regardless, making gumbo can be a time consuming process but it will be worth it in the long run. And, this recipe makes its own roux which makes it easily cookable for everyone.
- 1 large package chicken thighs
- 4 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 pound fresh or frozen okra, chopped (see footnote)
- 1 can small can tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 to one pound andouille or smoked sausage, diced
- 1 tablespoon The Pampered Chef® Creole Rub, Old Bay Seasoning Mix or other Cajun spice medley
- The day before: Simmer chicken thighs in four quarts of water slowly for about an hour. Reserve the water and allow the stock to cool overnight; skim fat from top. Debone thighs and discard skin.
- Chop vegetables and sauté in a non-stick pan over medium heat until onions are soft (about 5-10 minutes)
- Add okra and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly until slime is gone being careful not to let the mixture burn (about an hour for fresh okra or 10-15 minutes for frozen and then thawed okra)
- Sprinkle flour evenly over vegetables and stir until flour disappears
- Add tomato sauce. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Transfer mixture to large stock pot and slowly add 6 cups of chicken stock. Cook 30 minutes.
- Add 8 cups of stock, sausage and seasoning mix. Simmer on medium heat for one hour.
- Add chicken. Cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Stir often to avoid burning the bottom.
- Garnish with parsley. Add salt, pepper and additional seasonings to taste.
- Serve over rice
- Fresh okra can be quite messy and a pain to cook. I sometimes throw it in a food processor to chop it up. I’ve contemplated microwaving it to speed up the process and cut down on the mess. Frozen okra (just as good in my opinion) also works, takes less time to cook and is less sticky.
Nutritional information – values per serving are approximate (not including rice):
Calories 212.4 Total Fat 9.1g Cholesterol 83.0mg Sodium 2,079.8mg Potassium 1,226.7mg Total Carbohydrate 12.8g Protein 21.1g