Of all the dishes that come from Louisiana, gumbo is by far the most famous one, and it has a history dating back to the turn of the 19th century. Gumbo is a delicious warm stew made with a chocolate-colored roux, a strong and flavorful stock, meat, and the trinity of Cajun vegetables: onions, bell peppers and celery.

The dish is the original melting pot of the state and reflective of the many cultures that influenced cajun cooking. The name comes from an African word for Okra, but not all gumbos include okra today.

The roux that it starts with comes from the French influence on Cajun cooking. The File powder, sometimes added on top, was a contribution from the Choctaw Indians.

Today it has become a cultural symbol of Louisiana served at many restaurants, family gatherings, football games and festivals. Gumbo is perfect to make in huge batches for tailgating and football parties. Freeze the leftovers in quarts to thaw out for a nice treat on cool fall and winter nights. There are as many ways to make gumbo as there are gumbo chefs in Louisiana.

Below, see the author’s tried and true no fail chicken and sausage gumbo.

Ingredients for chicken and sausage gumbo

1 cup fat (oil, butter or bacon grease)

1 cup All-Purpose Flour (brown rice flour works well for those with gluten allergies)

2 small onions, chopped

3 bell peppers of different colors, chopped

6 stalks of celery, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

4 quarts chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (Tony’s)

1 teaspoon thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 chicken, cut-up, or about 4 lbs cut up chicken(Can use precooked chicken to save time, pick up a rotisserie chicken from grocery and peel the meat off)

1 pound spicy Cajun sausage such as andouille, sliced and 1 pound mild sausage sliced

Top with green onions and File powder

Instructions for making chicken and sausage gumbo

  • If not using cooked chicken, top raw chicken with salt and pepper and Cajun seasoning and brown on each side. Slice sausage and add to pan. Cook 3-5 minutes. Remove from pot and place in a bowl.
  • Begin making the roux in the same pot chicken and sausage was browned in. Add 1 cup fat and 1 cup flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the roux reaches the color of peanut butter or milk chocolate. It will take about 30 -45 minutes standing and stirring. To avoid this step, cook the roux in the oven on 375 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
  • Add chopped vegetables to the roux and stir. This will slow down the cooking of the roux. Cook about 5-10 minutes until vegetables start to become tender.
  • Add chicken broth, seasonings, bay leaves, and sausage. If using pre-cooked chicken, wait to add it to the end. If using raw chicken that was just browned, add to the pot now. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour or longer. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes.
  • If using pre-cooked chicken, add it at the end and stir and cook about 10 minutesor else it will shred too much if added too soon.Sprinkle with File powder.
  • Serve over rice with chopped green onions on top and a side of hot sauce for anyone who wants to make it even more spicy.

Troubleshooting tips to gumbo making

  • If the roux is too light, darken the gumbo slightly with Allegra Original Flavor Marinade
  • 1 Tablespoon or so of Louisiana crab and shrimp boil can be used in place of Cajun seasoning
  • Try mixing up the meats with combinations like duck and sausage, squirrel and rabbit, shrimp, crawfish, crab and oyster. Save the turkey bones to make broth and leftover turkey meat to make a great gumbo after Thanksgiving.
  • If File powder is not interesting enough, add in a cup of sautéed okra with the chicken or skip it all together. The roux will make the gumbo thick enough.
  • Eat gumbo with great friends, French bread, a cold beer, and chocolate cake for dessert.
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