This time of year in Louisiana brings what we like to call “gumbo weather.” The kind of the weather that makes you long for a fire, hot cocoa, Frank Sinatra, and best of all, a nice homemade bowl of gumbo.
When I was about ten years old, my dad called me into the kitchen to cook with him. Over the years, he taught me how to cook bacon and eggs, ‘lost bread’ (Cajun version of french toast), and a secret seasoning blend he learned from his dad, lovingly named Chauvin’s Cajun Dust. This particular day, my dad decided I should learn how to make a roux. For those unfamiliar, a roux (pronounced rue) is basically half flour, half fat cooked down to make a flavor base and thickening agent for a number of recipes. If you learn how to make roux, you have a Cajun cooking staple. Our family likes a dark roux, meaning it requires a lot of stirring. I remember telling my dad “Why do I need to learn this? My arm is going to fall off from stirring so long!” I appreciate this knowledge now and have since learned how to make my roux a little faster (without burning it!) and perfected my gumbo recipe.
My mother-in-law taught me her gumbo recipe years ago, soon after Josh and I married. The whole family always raved about it so I knew I needed to learn. Over the years, I began to enjoy cooking and teach myself new things, all by watching Food Network and reading cook books. John Besh is my favorite chef, not only for his good looks, but also his delicious food. I love all his restaurants as well as his recipes, so I followed his to make my first solo gumbo from scratch. It turned out great, and since then, I have made it my own. I’ve become a true Cajun mom, stirring a roux with a baby on my hip and a preschooler at my feet.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (adapted from John Besh’s My New Orleans)
- 1/2 c. Canola Oil, 1/2 c. butter
- 1 c. Flour
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 large pack of chicken thighs, cut
- 2 Tbsp. Creole Spices (I used my dad’s, but Tony’s will do)
- 2 lbs. spicy smoked sausage, chopped (I used deer sausage this time, but any smoked will do)
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 green peppers, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 quarts chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 oz. andouille sausage, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Filé Powder
- 4-6 c. cooked rice (I saute’ onions, add the rice, then cook it in chicken stock with a bay leaf. It makes a world of a difference!)
- Make a roux by heating the oil in a heavy bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue whisking until the roux turns deep brown, about 15 minutes.
- Add onions to the roux and stir with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium low and continue until the roux is a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
- Season the chicken with the Creole Spices. Add the chicken to the pot, raise the heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes, turning the chicken pieces as you go.
- Add the smoked sausage and stir for a minute.
- Add the celery, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring for three minutes. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and skim off the fat.
- Add the andouille, okra, Worcestershire, and season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder and Tabasco. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat off the top.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.