This week’s post is about one of my absolute favorite dishes in the whole wide world – gumbo. This is the stew that taught me how to truly and fully appreciate a day spent in the kitchen. It showed me that cooking can be an art, and that even when a dish is time intensive to make, it is worth it in the end. Because gumbo DOES take time to make. There are veggies and meats to be chopped and diced, a roux to be made, and like every great stew, there is some simmer time involved. One does not simply DECIDE to wake up and make gumbo, one PLANS to make gumbo, knowing that they are walking through a labor of love for a delicious end product.
Even though gumbo may be time intensive, it is so delicious. I make a huge batch of gumbo every fall, because it is a great dish to pull out of the freezer when you are snowed in for the day and can’t run to get groceries. This stew is also my “cure all” for the common cold. Whenever Cole and I catch a cold, I pull a bucket of gumbo out of the fridge. It’s got just enough spice in it to make you feel a little better!
I love making soups more than any other type of food, and Cole and I go back and forth about what our favorite type of soup is. However, no matter what the other contenders are, gumbo is always at the top of the list! I hope you get a chance to try it and love it just as much as we do!
½ cup Butter
½ cup Flour
1 lb Andouille Sausage
1 lb Chicken
1 ½ cups Diced Yellow Onion
1 cup Diced Celery
½ cup Diced Green Onion
1 cup Diced Green Pepper
½ cup Diced Jalapeno Peppers
4 tsp Minced Garlic
1 ½ cups Diced Fresh Tomatoes
1 tsp Dried Thyme
2 tbsp Cajun Seasoning
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 ½ tsp Hot Sauce (I always use Crystal’s Hot Sauce)
¼ tsp Gumbo File Powder
1. The first step to making gumbo is chopping up all of the veggies. The onions, celery, and peppers should all have a fine dice on them, about ¼ inch cubes. (Make sure to deseed the peppers before chopping them.) After all of the veggies are diced, pile them all on a plate, then mince the garlic and add it to the stack. Set this plate right next to the stove so it is easily accessible.
2. Dice the tomatoes up. These can be diced slightly larger than the other veggies, but do not go too large. Gumbo is not a stew that is intended to have large chunks of vegetables. It is also okay to use some of the seedy sections of the tomato in this recipe.Set the tomatoes on their own plate next to the stove and sprinkle the dried thyme and cajun seasoning over the top of them.
3. Slice the andouille sausage into thin coins, and the chicken into ½ inch pieces. Put each meat on their own plate and set them aside for future use.
4. Once all of the chopping is done, it’s time to start the actual process of making the stew. Like many stews, this starts by making a roux. Melt down all of the butter into a large kettle. (This should be the kettle that you intend to put your entire stew in.) Once the butter has been melted, add in the flour. Simmer and stir for 15 minutes.
Kitchen Tip 1: Making the gumbo roux is the most critical and challenging step of this dish. The roux CANNOT be left unattended for any span of time. It must be stirred throughout the entire 15 minutes. As you are stirring, you will notice the mixture getting goopy and starting to try and stick to the bottom of the pot. This is why you must keep stirring, otherwise it will burn. As the roux is cooking, it should turn a nice brown color. The darker the roux, the better the gumbo will turn out in the end.
5. After the roux has come together, add the plate with all the onions, peppers, celery, and garlic into it. Be super careful during this step! The roux will be extraordinarily hot, and it will burn you if it splashes up, so dump the veggies in VERY carefully! Once they are in, continue to stir this mixture for 10 minutes to combine it together and tenderize the veggies.
6. Once the veggies have become tender, add in the broth. Sometimes a whisk needs to be used at this point to thoroughly combine everything together, but a good spatula can usually do the job too.
7. Next, add in the plate with the tomatoes and seasonings, and pour in both the Worcestershire sauce and the hot sauce. Stir everything together, and let it simmer on low for 20 minutes.
8. While the broth mixture is simmering, the meat can be cooked up. Find the largest frying pan/skillet in your cabinet and heat it up to hot. When the pan is hot, add in the sausage coins and cook them through.
Kitchen Tip 2: I prefer to use a nonstick pan so that I can avoid using extra oil, thus making my dish less greasy. If you prefer to use stainless steel pans you may have to pour a little olive oil into the pan to avoid too much sticking. The sausage itself is pretty greasy though, so don’t go overboard with the oil.
9. After the sausage is cooked, scoop it out of the pan with a slotted spoon and spread it out onto a platter that is lined with paper towels. Put another paper towel on top of it to blot excess grease off. The more grease you can get off of the sausage, the better the overall dish will turn out.
10. Pour the chicken directly into the drippings of the frying pan, and cook the chicken completely. Then, repeat the same grease blotting technique used on the sausage with the chicken pieces.
11. After the meat has been cooked and blotted add it to the broth. Finally, add in the last ingredient – the gumbo file powder. This powder is a thickening agent, and is not intended to be used in a full roiling boil, so make sure the soup is down to a low simmer before adding it in. Once these ingredients are added, let the soup simmer and combine for another 15 minutes, then serve with rice!
Kitchen Tip 3: Gumbo file powder can be a little difficult to find in local grocery stores, but it can be purchased through Amazon if you can’t find it around.
Gumbo has a lot of steps to it, and it means spending a decent amount of time in the kitchen, but it is always worth it when you eat that first spoonful! Next time you have a spare weekend, I highly recommend taking a day to make up your own batch, and if you want a perfect side to go with it, try pairing it with my Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffins! They are a match made in heaven!