My First Effort at Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
I am not going to pretend I am a gumbo expert, or that I know everything there is to know about gumbo. Far from it. I have never even watched someone make gumbo.
Mainly I like to eat it, and my brother makes the best gumbo I have ever had. Other than that, I usually have gumbo when I am visiting Southeast Texas, and I have my favorites there. I know there are other types of gumbo, with tomatoes and okras and such, but that wasn’t the kind I wanted.
One thing led to another over this past week, and this morning I ended up making gumbo. Someone asked me if I used a recipe, and the answer is, not really. I read a bunch of different recipes, and I texted back and forth with my brother, the aforementioned king of gumbo.
Then I just did what felt right. I’ll do a few things differently next time, and will write that out in the recipe at the bottom of this post. But it was a pretty good first effort.
Starting with these ingredients:
I started by getting everything ready before I started the roux. My brother said he cooked the chicken first, and one of the recipes I had read said to rub chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning and bake it, so that is the route I went. I didn’t feel like the mess of frying them, which is what Paul Prudhomme, and my brother, does. I used only chicken thighs as I wanted the richness of the darker meat, and I pulled the skin off but left them bone in.
Then I prepped everything else—dicing 1 each of green bell pepper and onion, and 3 celery stalks, mincing two cloves of garlic, and getting out two bay leaves to add to the simmer.
My brother makes his own andouille sausage, but I used store-bought Aidells, which is always a good quality sausage. I sliced that up as well. The chicken came out of the oven around 20 minutes, with the thermometer reaching 165 Fahrenheit. I let it cool before shredding.
Before I started the roux, I heated a little oil in a pan to brown the sausage. Next time, no oil—there is plenty of fat in the sausage. I didn’t brown it long, just a couple of minutes on each side to brown it a little.
Finally, I was ready to start the roux. Over and over the warning is to not walk away from the roux, so I wanted to have everything ready before I began.
I added 1/2 cup vegetable oil to my cast iron pot over medium heat, then slowly started shaking in 1/2 cup flour, whisking constantly.
And then I kept whisking, never leaving it unattended. I checked in with a few people that make gumbo often, posting this picture of the roux:
And I kept whisking while I waited. From that point, it deepened in color really quickly, and had a wonderful smell. I quickly texted this picture to my brother, because I also knew the warning about not letting the roux burn, and he responded back that it was perfect:
It really was a deep chocolate color. Next I added in the vegetables and stirred and cooked for another 5 minutes until the veggies were tender.
Then I stirred in the sausage, 1/2 tsp of kosher salt, and two bay leaves, and let them cook for another 5 minutes.
Finally, I slowly stirred in chicken broth. I think I added a little too much here. 4-5 cups would have been fine, and I used 6. Either that, or I need to add more chicken and sausage.
And after bringing it to a boil, I lowered the heat, covered it, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, I took the chicken off the bone and shredded it.
After 30 minutes, I added the chicken to the pot and let it simmer 5 minutes, then added the garlic and let it cook another 5 minutes.
I didn’t have rice cooked just yet, but normally I would serve it with rice, either a scoop in the bowl or on the side. Even without the rice, it is delicious!
So, complete with the changes I will make the next time, here is the recipe.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
6 Bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
1 lb Andouille Sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
5 cups chicken broth
Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Rub the Tony Chachere’s over the chicken thighs and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast the chicken for approximately 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer reads 165 Fahrenheit. Take it out and let it cool before shredding.
Lightly fry the sausage slices 1-2 minutes on each side, just to brown.
Get everything else ready before starting the roux.
In a heavy bottomed dutch oven (I used an enameled cast iron pot) heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil over medium heat and begin shaking in the flour, whisking all the while. Do not move away from the stove, this needs your attention. Continue whisking until the roux reaches a dark chocolate color.
Add the pepper, onion, and celery, and cook and stir for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add the sausage, bay leaves, and salt, and cook and stir for about 5 minutes, then begin adding the chicken broth, stirring all the while to blend it properly.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
Take the chicken off the bone and shred into bite size pieces. I then wrapped the foil it had cooked on around the chicken so it wouldn’t dry out.
After 30 minutes, add the chicken to the pot, stir, raise the heat back to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and let cook another 5 minutes.
Serve with rice.