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This is my favorite style of gumbo. I’ve enjoyed it literally all my life, as it is basically my mother’s recipe, a regular part of her weekly cooking regimen. This gumbo is made in the old style, which is to say that the broth is not as thick as has come to be the vogue in most restaurants these days. We called it filé gumbo because Mama put filé (powdered sassafras leaves) only in chicken gumbo and okra only in seafood gumbo. The filé goes in at the table, and then just a pinch for aroma.
This is one of those soups that gets better after it sits in the refrigerator for a day. This recipe also reduces the amount of time needed on the stove by about a third.
Andouille: A chunky, smoky, thick-skinned smoked pork sausage, both French and German in character. Andouille is used in gumbo, jambalaya, and quite a few other New Orelans dishes as both a meat and a flavoring. You can substitute a generic smoked pork or beef sausage if you can’t get the real thing.
File Powder: A distinctive ingredient in gumbo, especially chicken gumbo, filé is powdered sassafras leaves. It is in the spice rack of any New Orleans food store but may be harder to find elsewhere.
Serves6 to 10
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Lactose-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free
Taste and TextureHerby, Meaty, Savory, Smoky, Spiced
- One 6-lb. stewing chicken
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup flour
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 12 cups chicken stock or water
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp. Tabasco
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ tsp. dried thyme
- 1 lb. andouille (see Notes) or other smoked sausage
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2-3 cups cooked long grain rice
- File powder (see Notes)
Cut the chicken into 12 pieces. Sear them in 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large kettle or Dutch oven over fairly high heat. Keep turning the chicken pieces until they brown on the outside; they should not cook through.
Remove the chicken and reserve. Add the flour and remaining oil to the pot and make as dark a roux as you can. The key to making a roux is to avoid burning it. This is accomplished by constant stirring and watching the heat.
When the roux is medium-dark, reduce the heat and add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and parsley, and sauté until the onions are translucent and have begun to brown.
Return the chicken to the pot, along with the chicken stock or water, salt, pepper, Tabasco, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for about an hour.
Slice the andouille into 1-inch-thick disks. Wrap them in paper towels and microwave them on medium power for about 3 minutes to remove excess fat. Add the sausage to the gumbo pot.
Cook the gumbo, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender, for 1-2 hours. If you plan to serve the gumbo the next day, cook it for just 30 minutes, let it cool to warm, cover, and refrigerate. You might want to strip the chicken meat (see next step) while waiting for the gumbo to cool.
When ready to serve, remove the chicken and strip the meat off if you haven’t done so already. Slice the chicken into bite-size pieces and return to the pot. (You can also just leave the pieces as is if you’re among family.) Add the green onions and simmer for another 3-4 minutes.
Serve over rice with a pinch or two of filé at the table.
2006 Tom Fitzmorris
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