Sunday, May 15, 2011

Daring Cooks May 2011 Challenge: Gumbo

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Gumbo originated in Louisiana in the 18th century, combining culinary influences of several cultures including French, Spanish, Italians, and Germans, and has become the regional dish of the Big Easy.  The most common varieties of gumbo include seafood or meat, and can be classified as "Cajun" or "Creole," depending on the spices used. An important component of any gumbo is the thickener: okra, file, and/or roux.

We knew this gumbo would feed us for awhile, so we decided to make the chicken and smoked sausage gumbo, purely for re-heating purposes. The gumbo combined with Louisiana white rice was smoky and spicy, and had the consistency of gravy. It's like Mardi Gras in your mouth, any time of the year.

Recipe after the jump!

Drew’s Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo
Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Serves 10-12

1 cup rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil (we used canola oil)
1 cup flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 quarts chicken stock
2 bay leaves
6 ounces andouille sausage, chopped
2 cups sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Cornstarch (optional)
4-6 cups cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)


1. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using (recipe below).

2. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.

3. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

4. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue
whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

5. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

6. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

7. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.

8. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.

9. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.

10. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

11. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco, all to taste.

12. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. If the gumbo doesn't thicken to your liking, stir in cornstarch (mix 1 part cornstarch to 1 part water before adding it to the gumbo - we only needed 1 tablespoon of each). Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over Basic Louisiana White Rice (see recipe below).

Basic Louisiana White Rice

Adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Servings: About 4 cups

1 tablespoon chicken fat, extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
1 small onion, minced
1½ cups Louisiana (or another long-grain white) rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 pinches salt


1. Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

4. Add the bay leaf and salt.

5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

Basic Creole Spices

From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Makes ½ cup

2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice

Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.


  1. Your gumbo looks great!! Good job!

  2. What a beautiful shade of brown you got on your broth! Looks delicious!