I can hardly believe I’ve never shared this recipe with you, but perhaps, with the holiday season almost on top of us, it was supposed to be saved until now. Maybe we’ll just call it an early Christmas present.
I’ve been making this delicious gumbo for, what seems like, eons. A co-worker of mine attended cooking school in New Orleans many years ago. One fine day, not long after she returned, my friend brought a large container of this classic Creole dish to work as a treat. It was one of the recipes she’d learned in her class. Up until then, the only gumbo I knew about, was the kind in the red and white can, so I wasn’t expecting anything super exiting.
Wow, I couldn’t believe how fabulous it was! I begged her for the recipe and didn’t waste any time re-creating it for my family to try.
“Candy”, that’s what my husband called it as he ate the first bowlful. It’s a funny description, but it’s the adjective he uses for something so superlative that there are no other words. Although Scott is my greatest culinary fan, there are only a handful of recipes that he describes as “candy”.
I’ve served this gumbo many times over the years for family get togethers and dinner parties. It’s always a huge hit.
I love that all the work can be done in advance allowing me to enjoy my guests instead of slaving in the kitchen. When it’s time for dinner, I dish up bowls of steaming hot rice ladled with this fabulous Cajun-style gumbo.
A scatter of thinly sliced scallions and finely chopped parsley is the fresh, finishing touch. Sighs of delight often accompany each savory bite.
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup canola oil or other mild flavored oil
- 1 pound Andouille* sausage if you can't find Andouille, use your favorite smoked sausage. (I like to use Andouille chicken sausage.)
- 3 medium onions peeled and cut in ½-inch pieces
- 4 medium bell peppers cored and cut in ½-inch pieces
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds shrimp medium or large, shelled and deveined
- green onions scallions, thinly sliced for garnish
- fresh parsley finely chopped, for garnishing
The night before, or at least several hours before starting the gumbo, sprinkle the chicken breast with Cajun seasoning. Massage the meat to incorporate the seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Add the flour to a large heavy-duty Dutch oven cook over medium heat on the stovetop. It will take about 5-10 minutes for it to begin to toast. Stir flour continuously. You'll notice a nutty aroma first, then flour will start to smoke just a bit and turn a pale golden brown color. As soon as you see the smoke, remove pot from burner.
Add oil and stir until mixture is nice and smooth. Cover Dutch oven and transfer to the preheated oven for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. The time will vary a bit, depending on your oven. I like the roux to be a deep golden brown color, darker than peanut butter but not as dark as chocolate. You can go a bit darker for more intense flavor, if desired.
When roux is the right color, transfer pot from the oven back to the stovetop. With heat on medium, add sliced sausage, peppers and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, continuing to stir.
Add 2 cups of the chicken stock, salt and pepper. Stir well. Slowly add the remainder of the broth, stirring continuously. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered, or until peppers and onions are tender.
Add chicken, stir to combine, then return gumbo to a boil. Add shrimp, stir, cover pot and turn off the heat. Let gumbo sit, covered for 10 minutes before serving. The chicken will finish cooking and the shrimp will cook perfectly during this 10 minute resting time. Taste and season, if needed.
Serve in bowls over jasmine rice. Garnish with sliced green onions and chopped parsley.
sausage is a spicy smoked sausage originally made in France. It's common in many Cajun dishes as well and is classically made from pork. Now days you can find chicken
which tends to be lower in fat.
~ The recipe's been tweaked a bit over the years, utilizing beautiful bell peppers in hues of yellow, red and orange in lieu of the plain green peppers in the original recipe.
taught me the "oven roux" method, eliminating a lot of tedious stovetop stirring, a traditional step in classic gumbo recipes.
~ The gumbo can make it a day in advance and rewarmed before serving. We always comment that the flavor just keeps getting better and better as the gumbo ingredients have time to make friends (aka melding).
~ This makes a large pot of gumbo. Feel free to cut the recipe in half, but you may be disappointed when you go to the fridge and find out that someone's snitched the last little bit!
Serves 12-14 with jasmine rice (basmati is great with this too!)