Here in south Louisiana gumbo is a staple. We make it as soon as the weather cools a bit. And here, that’s 60°F.
We continue to make it all winter until crawfish season in the spring, when we start boiling crawfish.
The traditional way to make gumbo involves whatever meat you have. We tend to make chicken and sausage gumbo. In my grandma’s day, you would have gone outside and killed a spent hen (no longer laying eggs) or a young rooster that was not needed.
Then you cook that bird down for a long time, pulling the meat off the bones before it falls apart and leave bones in the gumbo.
Get that smoked sausage from the smokehouse, along with onions, bell peppers, and celery. Toss in some okra at the end.
A roux is a sauce made in the grease from the meat. You mix a small amount of flour into the grease and brown it, and that’s the base for your chicken stock/liquid in the gumbo.
I’m going to give you a “quick gumbo” cheat recipe for today’s busy lifestyle. There are so many great options that cut down time and still pack great flavor.
So let’s get to it!
You will need:
Boneless chicken thighs (5#)
Smoked sausage (2-3#)
2 medium yellow onions
1-2 bell peppers, seeded and slices
Garlic (a lot)
Okra – sliced
Cajun seasoning to taste
Start by deboning chicken thighs or simply purchase deboned thighs. Dark meat makes a better gumbo. Sauté the chicken – I prefer lard or bacon grease for everything, but regular vegetable oil works.
Slice and sauté the smoked sausage. We like Cooper’s or Conecuh sausage.
Now sauté your onions, bell peppers, and celery. We leave the celery out a good portion of the time simply because we don’t have it on hand. No big deal. But you must have the peppers and onions.
Here you see the meat in one pan while the onions and peppers will sauté in a different pan. That’s simply for quickness.
Now you should mix the sautéed onions, bell peppers, smoked sausage, and browned chicken thighs all in one big pot. We prefer cast iron because it holds heat and cooks evenly.
Add chicken broth to cover the meat. Let simmer for a while. Say an hour on a good simmer. Now here is the real cheat – roux mix.
Make your roux mix and pour into the pot. You can add okra at this point. If you put it in too early, it will cook down to mush. To keep your okra recognizable, add it in the final hour of cooking.
It has a thickening agent in to, so if you use more, your sauce will be thicker. If you use less, your sauce will be thinner.
If you lose too much liquid while it’s simmering, simply add water.
Cook another hour or so. The longer it simmers, the better.
Make a pot of rice to serve it over. We also eat it with saltine crackers. One area of Louisiana eats potato salad with their gumbo.
This took 3 hours from start to finish. We ate it for lunch and kept it simmering until dinner, when we ate it again.