In honor of my friends and family who celebrate Mardi Gras I am dedicating this post to them. You can read more about Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday here. In honor of the namesake of today, I decided to cook a cajun tradition: Gumbo! I’m always amazed at how those that aren’t from the south have never heard of gumbo. Gumbo is a rich in flavor, thicker than soup, and can be cooked many different ways. There really is no wrong way or right way to cook gumbo as far as what you put in it. The most popular variations are chicken and sausage, shrimp, and shrimp and okra gumbo. It’s typically paired with potato salad. Some go as far to put the potato salad in their gumbo! (I’m one of them!) It’s perfect for a cold winter day!
Since I don’t eat seafood, I only cook chicken and sausage. It’s one of the few meals that the kids, hubby, and myself all can agree on. Everyone has their own way of cooking it, including how much of certain vegetables, type of meat, etc. It’s really about personal preference. Most people will cook and debone a whole chicken. I tried it once but learned fast I cannot stomach that, so I use chicken breast. Some will make their own roux, I prefer the roux from a jar. Now let’s get down to business!
Ingredients:2 large onions 2 bunches of green onions 4-5 bell peppers 1-2 tablespoons of minced garlic (optional) 4-5 Chicken breasts (I use boneless, but you can use the chicken breast with bone, the bone will add more flavor) 1-2 packages of sausage Douget’s roux salt, pepper, gumbo file
First cut up all the veggies. You can cut them in small pieces, I prefer mine minced so I use my chopper to mince them. UPDATED: I recently started sauteing the veggies in butter before adding them to the pot, I find it gives it a more richer flavor, but this is optional. The pics below do not show them sauteed. Add them to a stock pot. Next rinse and cut up the chicken breast. I know someone will say rinsing it could spread salmonella, but sorry, my chicken gets rinsed. Add the chicken to the pot with the veggies. I then add just a little bit of salt and fill it up with water, not too high though especially if you are like me and are prone to boiling things over. I do it 9 times out of 10 when I cook gumbo because I get distracted lol. Cover pot and bring water to boil. Once it boils lower the temp to around medium-medium high and let it simmer for about 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. You want all the flavors to blend and the chicken to cook down till it is almost falling apart. I personally don’t like my chicken shredded so I cook it long enough to get tender but not falling apart. Make sure to keep a watch on it, it will boil over and fast if you aren’t careful!
Next add the roux. If you are using jar roux it will tell you to blend the oil on the top into it but I always drain it off. The amount of of roux you add depends on your preference. I personally like my gumbo to have a rich dark roux so I add quite a bit, however I add a little at a time to make sure it dissolves completely and to make sure I get the dark color I like. Bring the gumbo back to a boil so the roux will dissolve, adding it a little at a time until you reach the desired amount, stirring constantly until it dissolves. Make sure that it all dissolves so that you don’t burn any on the bottom of the pot…yes I’ve done that too! lol
While that is simmering cut up your sausage and add to the pot. Cook until the sausage is done and the flavor has had a chance to blend in. You can now start to add salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt at first because the sausage has a lot of sodium in it and will season it some before you add salt. Taste (careful it’s hot!) until you reach the desired amount of seasoning you prefer. When you get ready to serve your gumbo, add a little bit of gumbo file, but not too much as it will really thicken it up. Each person can add extra file if they want it to their own serving. Your gumbo is now ready! Serve it over hot rice. I serve mine with potato salad and either garlic bread or crescent rolls.
It really isn’t too hard to make, but it can take several times before you get it just right, meaning how you prefer it. The chicken in this picture is more shredded than I prefer.
They taste just like the Great American Cookies too! Yummy!