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Gumbo

Gumbo is a good and hearty meal. Photo from http://www.myrecipes.com

Gumbo is a dish that many people know about, but few people know how to make well. It can take on many forms, but the basis of gumbo is always a good roux. If you read my last post and tried your hand at making roux, this post will show you how to use that roux to make a delicious gumbo.

Gumbo is defined by the ingredients that you choose to put in it. Your gumbo can be chicken and sausage, seafood (crabs, shrimp, oysters, or even shrimp and okra. There are a few other varieties, but the three that I mentioned are the most common at my house.

For this post I’ll focus on a chicken and sausage gumbo, it’s pretty straightforward to make, and the ingredients are easy to find at most grocery stores. This recipe is modified from Tony Chachere’s Cajun Country Cookbook to be closer to the way my family cooks it.

You’ll Need

  • A large stock/soup pot. 12 quarts will be plenty
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • Cajun seasonings (Tony Chachere’s or Slap Ya’ Mama)
  • 1-2 cups of roux depending on how thick and dark you want your gumbo
  • 3 lbs smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 4-6 lb hen, cut into pieces and seasoned with Cajun seasonings
  • 2 cups rice

Fill the pot a little less than half full with water, set to boil.  Add roux once the water starts boiling and stir to ensure that the roux mixes evenly. Add chopped onion and bell pepper and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add chicken and sausage and cook on medium low heat for 2-3 hours until chicken is tender. Stir regularly so the chicken and vegetables don’t stick to the bottom. Be careful to not overcook the chicken because the meat will start falling off the bone.

Once the meat gets close to being done, cook 2 cups of rice. Skim any excess oil off the top of the gumbo before serving. When gumbo and rice are cooked, serve gumbo over rice and enjoy. I usually make a potato salad to go with the gumbo as well, and it helps if the gumbo is really spicy. Here’s how I make it:

  • 5 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 7 eggs
  • mayonaise
  • mustard, to taste
  • Cajun seasonings, to taste

Boil potatoes and eggs. Peel eggs and put boiled potatoes and eggs in a large bowl. Mash until you have a mixture of small pieces. Add mayonaise until the mixture is smooth. Add seasonings to taste. Enjoy!

This recipe can be cut in half if you want to make less, but it’s better to make a big gumbo because it takes so long to cook. Gumbo can be frozen and reheated later. I usually make a large gumbo, eat it for 3-4 days and then freeze the rest, that way I only have to cook my rice and I have a quick and easy hearty meal. Gumbo is always better the next day because all of the flavors have really sunk into the meat.

Sometimes the leftovers will be mostly the juice from the gumbo, but even that is worth freezing. When reheating the gumbo, bring it to a low boil and crack a few eggs in it. Don’t stir. The eggs will cook and help you stretch the gumbo. This tastes good in all gumbos, and it is actually one of my favorite parts about eating a gumbo.

Cooking a gumbo is more about taking an afternoon to just let it cook than about any fancy cooking technique. The main things to remember are:

  1. Make sure you’ve added enough roux so your gumbo isn’t too watery
  2. Make sure you have enough water so your gumbo isn’t a stew
  3. Stretch it as much as you can because it’s delicious

Beyond that, gumbo is done more by feel than by recipe, so use this as a guide and you’ll be able to learn the basics and then see what works. Bon appétit!


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