PSA: If you like tomatoes or hot dogs in your gumbo, this post is not for you.
I’d like to start off by telling you that I have lived in south Louisiana for just shy of fifteen years now but I grew up in a small town in North Louisiana. My grandparents lived down here and we visited more times than I can count. I know good cookin’. Clearly…seen my physic lately? Unfortunately I didn’t know how to cook really well until a few years into being married. North Louisiana cookin’ and South Louisiana cookin’ are both good but the way these Cajun folks down here do things are entirely different and I like it.
Apparently, one of the main ways to make anything delicious around here is to burn it first.
No, seriously. It’s what any true Cajun will tell you. Ask and you’ll see. I’ve watched my mama cook my entire life but I don’t think I actually learned how to really cook until I started watching my husbands cousins wife(aka, Karyn, my bff!). She knows how to cook! Little does she know, I have watched and learned more from her over the years and if anyone thinks my food is good, it’s because I learned from her. You can thank her, not me! And if it’s not good, then it’s probably my fault because I hate following directions. I just like to stir stuff.
Gumbo is a classic dish in these parts. Doesn’t matter what time of the year it is. It could be a thousand degrees outside with a humidity level hotter than the inside of satan’s mouth and I guarantee somebody’s eating gumbo somewhere. But you best believe if the temperature drops below 50, every family across the south has pulled out their gumbo pots and the smell of fresh roux fills the crisp, cool air.
I’m going to share my recipe and cooking methods for gumbo. Just know that this is probably different from probably everybody else and their mama. They’d probably tell you there’s more than one way to skin a rabbit…and they’d be right.
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo:
•pack of fresh or smoked sausage. (This particular recipe I used fresh.)
•pack of chicken breasts or bone in chicken thighs/drumsticks. (Bone in is my favorite but I used breasts for this recipe.)
•Three packs of Tasso.
•Three large containers of chicken stock.
•Holy Trinity, I like to use Guidry’s fresh cuts. Fast and easy. ( yellow onion, bell pepper and green onion.)
•Jar of Roux. Powder or Oil Base. (I used Oil based.) Unless you know how to make your own roux, in which case, you might have to come over and school me.
•Seasoning. (Tony’s, Salt, Pepper.)
This recipe can be altered and changed depending how much or how little you’d like to make.
I start off by putting my sausage and minced garlic into the gumbo pot and begin “burning” it. Basically, it means browning it so don’t get your panties in a bunch over this. Burning it means you’re creating a grismies or grah-doo at the bottom of the pot to create a rich gravy base for later. This step takes the longest so don’t rush this, this is probably the most important step! You stir the pot frequently with your heat high enough to burn or brown your meat but not to the point that the grismise starts to turn black or where it smells like there’s obviously something on fire. The longer you do this, the darker and tastier your gravy base will be. This whole process is simply burning, stirring and scraping until your meat is cooked and you have a nice gravy base to work with.I will add small amounts of water off and on during this process to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot too much. (Side note: my sausage kinda busted open, the goal is for that to not happen.. but ya know, life.)
Then, I remove the sausage and put it in a bowl to cool. I’ll add my diced up Tasso in the pot and repeat that same process. Once my sausage is cool, I will slice it up and add it back to the pot along with the Holy Trinity. The vegetables will have a little bit of water that cook out of them so they help continue the burning down process. Once those vegetables are cooked down, I will start adding all of my chicken stock. After I empty my first carton of stock, I will start scraping all of that grismies off the bottom of the pot and mixing it with the stock. Make sure you remove all of the grismies because you don’t want it to end up burning later! I empty the other two cartons of stock into the pot. This will usually fill up at least half of the pot. I will use water to fill the pot to about 3/4 of the way to the top. You don’t want to over fill because you need room for this puppy to boil!
At this point, I will add in seasoning. There really is no rhyme or reason on how to season. Some like it bland, some like it hot and sometimes your meats contain just enough seasoning that your dish might need a little,a lot or none at all. Now is the time where you can pretty much take your first break with your dish. I wait until the water is boiling to add my roux. Depending how well you did at burning your meat, you might not need very much roux at all or you may need a good bit. It also depends how dark and thick you would like your gumbo to be too. If I remember correctly, I think I only added two VERY full tablespoons of roux to this particular pot. Now you need to stir continuously until all of your roux balls disappear. Speaking of which, have you ever ate a roux ball? I don’t advise it. When in doubt, stir dat pot.
From now until about an hour or an hour and a half until you’re ready to serve, you’ll basically let your gumbo boil and simmer all those savory flavors together. Taste test your gumbo to make sure the flavor you’re wanting is there. Once you know you’re at about that 1-1.5 hour from serving mark, you’ll want to go ahead and add your chicken. For this recipe I used breast and cut them up into bite size pieces. Typically, my go to would be thighs or legs because something about bones really just amp up the flavor. But since this was for my daughters birthday party, I didn’t want any small children choking or having to pick bones out of their food. Side note, please be sure to taste test before you put your raw chicken in there..last thing anyone needs is to catch salmonella and die making gumbo. After you have added your chicken, you can go ahead and fire up that rice pot sha.
My gumbo takes a minimum of about three hours to cook but the longer you can cook, the better. You will never regret letting your gumbo cook longer, promise! Once your rice is done, you are ready to serve. If you’re feeling extra bougie you can serve some potato salad along side of this or even add some okra in the gumbo and your guests will undoubtedly love it. Or if you’re boring like me, you get garlic bread or crackers.
Bon appétit and laissez les bon temps rouler!