My first gumbo! I made my first gumbo dish! And boy, did it turn out really well! Even the pickiest eater in my family asked for seconds and thirds and ate the leftovers the next day. ;-)))))))))
Until I made my gumbo, I’d never tasted it before. The opportunity to eat it never came up. When I started cooking, for some reason, I always thought gumbo was a very complicated dish to prepare. After seeing the recipe on Melissa’s blog, The Traveler’s Lunchbox, I became inspired to make it. It didn’t seem too hard to make.
I already had most of the ingredients, except for the sausage. When I went food shopping, I couldn’t find the andouille sausage, which was the first time I’d heard of it. However, I did find Kielbasa sausage (another type of sausage new to me). Melissa’s advice about what to do if you don’t use the andouille sausage (add cayenne, garlic powder, and dried thyme) helped a lot.
Another ingredient I couldn’t find was the filé powder. My search took me to three stores with no luck. I wonder how much different my gumbo would have tasted with the filé powder. However the end product was delicious.
One of my favorite parts of making the gumbo was making the roux. I had fun mixing the flour and oil and seeing it thicken and actually turn into the color of peanut butter. Peanut butter! Yeah, I know: It takes very little to get me excited. The roux really did bring out the “nutty flavor” that Melissa describes in her blog post.
Served with rice, the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo was very reminiscent of some West African cuisine. Perhaps that’s why that picky family member gobbled it up. My favorite part of the gumbo was
the okra everything — the okra, chicken, and sausage…
I’m sure gumbo is great to eat at anytime, but this hearty and tasty dish was especially perfect to eat on a cold rainy day, which is when we had it. I know I’ll be making more during the winter.
Melissa, thanks for the recipe!
Ed. Note: Filé powder is made from ground sassafras leaves that was used to give root beer its distinctive flavor before artificial flavorings replaced it. Southerners add filé to their gumbos to thicken and flavor them. The powder gets stringy when it’s heated, so add it only after you’ve removed the gumbo from the heat source. Filé also doesn’t reheat well, so add only to the gumbo that you are planning to serve. ~ Lowfat Lifestyle.com
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
In a Cajun Kitchen by Terri Pischoff Wuerthner
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (she admits that bone-in, skin-on dark meat chicken pieces, such as legs, thighs and wings are more traditional as well as flavorful in Cajun cooking, so that’s what I used – a much better idea, in my opinion)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup corn oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 quarts warm chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced 1 inch thick (or other spicy smoked sausage, such as Kielbasa, though my advice is to add the following if you don’t use andouille: another 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 1/2 pounds fresh okra or 20 ounces frozen okra, defrosted, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons filé powder (I left this out, as I couldn’t find any locally)
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish cooked rice, to serve
Season the chicken cubes (or pieces) with the salt, paprika and cayenne pepper; set aside. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring constantly, until the flour has turned a medium-brown, like peanut butter. Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the seasoned chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly (and reducing the heat, if necessary, to prevent burning).
Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the hot sauce and sausage; reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the okra and simmer for 30 more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the filé powder just before dishing it up. Serve in soup bowls with a mound of rice in the center of each portion.