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Chicken & Andouille Gumbo

January 23, 2010
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As some of you may know, Elysabeth and I took a trip to New Orleans for our second anniversary this past November. Our main focus (more or less) on choosing New Orleans was the food, and boy howdy, we certainly ate well. When we got home we were all ready to dive into some Cajun and Creole cooking, but the holidays stole our focus and we never quite got around to it. This past weekend, we went to NYC to visit with my cousin Seth and my step-brother Jason (who took these pictures) for our annual Martin Luther King Day event. Similar to our New Orleans trip, the MLK weekends are generally about food. We came, we saw, we ate, and this year, we cooked. When we were trying to figure out what to make, Elysabeth’s suggestion of Gumbo really struck gold with all of us and so I set out to find a good recipe. For all things New Orleans, I trust with my heart the words, techniques, and recipes of Emeril Lagasse, so it’s only fitting that one of his recipes was what I chose. We stayed true to this for the most part, with some very small tweaks, and it turned out fabulously. It also took FOREVER to finish (about 4-4.5 hours) but it was quite good and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Chicken & Andouille Gumbo (Serves 6-8):

  • 1 tbsp. plus 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound Andouille sausage, cut in half cross-wise and then into 1/2″ slices
  • 4 pounds skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tbsp. creole seasoning (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 9 cups chicken stock (use the best you can find, or homemade)
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp file powder (also known as gumbo file), plus more for at-table seasoning
  • 2-3 cups cooked white rice
  • hot sauce
  • kosher salt

Creole Seasoning (Makes 2/3 cup):

  • 2 1/2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme

Instructions:

  1. Combine creole seasoning thoroughly and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage (in batches if needed – do not overcrowd) until well browned and fat is released, about 8 minutes. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate or board.
  3. Season the chicken with the creole seasoning on all sides and add to pot. Brown chicken well (do not cook all the way through), remove and let cool. Once cool, cover and put into refrigerator until needed.
  4. Roux, somewhere around the "Tan" stage..

    Add the 1/2 cup oil to the pot and sprinkle all the flour over the top. Turn the heat down to medium and begin to stir. Do not stop stirring, even for a second, until the roux mixture resembles chocolate brown. If it burns, you need to throw it out and start over, so do not let this happen! This may take upwards of 30 minutes. Be patient, this is the base of all good flavors in the dish.

  5. Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper and stir to coat fully. Keep stirring and cooking for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the sausage, cayenne, bay leaves, and a good pinch of salt and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Gradually add all of the stock as you stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to pull up any browned bits that are still there. Combine very thoroughly, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
  7. Add the chicken to the pot and simmer for an hour and a half, skimming off any fat that rises to the surface. The longer the gumbo cooks at this stage, the better it will be, so don’t worry about getting it off the heat too soon! If you need to leave it for a long time, turn the heat down to low.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat. If your chicken thighs have bones, pull them all out and set aside on a cutting board. When they’re cool enough to work with, pull the meat off the bones and add back to soup. If you have no bones, then use tongs and kitchen shears to cut down the thigh pieces into bite-sized pieces.
  9. Stir in the parsley, the scallions, and the file and stir to combine and thicken.
  10. Spoon 1/4-1/2 cup of rice into bowls, and then ladle gumbo on top. Pass hot sauce, extra file powder, and salt and pepper with the bowls at the table for guests to season to taste.
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