Dinner party-worthy and super flavorful, this Chicken Andouille Gumbo can be made ahead for easy, relaxed (and delicious) entertaining!
You might wonder where I come up with my ideas for recipes. Everywhere! It seems that no matter where I go or what I do, I always have thoughts of food and ideas for recipes rolling around in the recesses of my mind. This chicken andouille gumbo was inspired by a simple lunch after church this past Sunday. I ordered a salmon-veggie bowl which was delicious, but I kept sneaking little tastes of Scott's dish, a wonderful (yes, you guessed right) chicken andouille gumbo.
It was so delicious, I couldn't get it off my mind. I've made gumbo before, but this one was so unique with super tender chicken, flavorful sausage and tiny diced veggies. Late Sunday afternoon, Scott came into the kitchen while I was making dinner. "Wow, that smells good, what are we having?", he asked. I just smiled and when he looked in the pot he knew that, once again, I was in the recreating process.
He also knew that he would probably be eating a lot of gumbo (and might even be speaking Cajun) by the time I got this recipe perfected. Sure enough, on Monday gumbo was on the menu for both lunch and dinner. I've tweaked the recipe here and there and we both think it's just right now!
What is Cajun?
You might be wondering what exactly is Cajun? That's a good and very interesting question. Cajun is used both as a noun and as an adjective and is a term used frequently in New Orleans and southern Louisiana. The noun, Cajun, refers to the group of people who are descendants of the French Canadians who migrated in the 1700"s from Eastern Canada. They settled in the bayou areas of southern Louisiana. The word Cajun is derived from the French word Acadia which was the name back then for the area of Canada they migrated from.
"Cajun" used as an adjective describes a style of cooking originating among the Cajuns and characterized by the use of unique seasonings. Most Cajun dishes start with a combination of diced onion, celery and bell pepper. In Louisiana, this is referred to as "the holy trinity". Other frequently used ingredients in Cajun cuisine are garlic, paprika, thyme, parsley, green onions and andouille.
What is andouille?
This brings up another question. What is andouille? Andouille is a smoked, spicy sausage that was originally made in Western France. It's used frequently in gumbo and jambalaya and lots of other Creole dishes. Andouille has become more common in recent years and is often used in non-Cajun dishes; stews, soups, breakfast casseroles, etc.
Where can you buy andouille?
If you haven't cooked much with andouille you might be surprised to find that it's very readily available. Most larger grocery stores carry andouille in the area with other pre-cooked, smoked sausages such as kielbasa, chorizo, etc. You can find both pork and chicken andouille. I've tried andouille made by Amy Lu, Johnsonville and Magic Seasonings - all delicious!
Making a roux
When it comes to Cajun cooking, one of the culinary terms you'll frequently run into is "roux". Some people think that making a roux is really tricky. A roux is simply a combination of some type of fat (butter, oil, lard, etc.) and flour. This combination is cooked to varying degrees and is used as a thickener as well as a flavor enhancer.
With this Chicken Andouille Gumbo, the roux is cooked until the color becomes a deep brown or mahogany. It can't be hurried and that's perhaps why people think making a roux is difficult. It's one of those things that takes time, but doesn't have to be constantly watched. I've found that making a roux just requires being in the kitchen. I can be tending to other tasks as long as I'm nearby and available to give the roux a stir every 3-4 minutes.
I love that this chicken andouille gumbo can be made ahead. It actually gets better after hanging out in the fridge for a day or two as all the wonderful flavors have a chance to marry and meld. That, to me is the perfect kind of recipe for entertaining. All I need to do is make a pot of rice before the guests arrive and warm the gumbo, as I enjoy an appetizer with family or friends.
Do you have some holiday entertaining engagements coming up? Pin this chicken andouille gumbo recipe now so it's easy to find. You'll need it when you prepare the gumbo and when you get requests for the recipe!
Café Tips for making this Chicken Andouille Gumbo
- This recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This is the perfect choice for this gumbo as the chicken simmers in the sauce for 45-60 minutes and thighs don't dry out or get tough the way white meat breasts can. You could also use chicken legs if you enjoy dark meat.
- Cook the roux over low heat so it does brown too quickly and burn. You want a low steady bubbling but definitely not a vigorous boil.
- I use Johnsonville Andouille for my gumbo but there are lots of other delicious andouilles out there. If you want to keep things a little leaner, feel free to use chicken andouille.
- There is cayenne pepper in this recipe. I give a range from ½-1 teaspoon. If you don't like things spicy, use ½ teaspoon. We like things medium spicy so I use ¾ teaspoon. Like things really spicy? Feel free to use more than what's called for.
- There are lots of options for oil in this gumbo. I list some examples in the recipe. You just want an oil that has a mild flavor and a high smoke point.
- Feel free to use any color bell pepper in this recipe. I like to use a combination of red and yellow or red and orange.
- Carrots aren't generally found in traditional gumbo recipes. I just like to stuff as many veggies as I can into my recipes. The carrots just seem to melt into the sauce, adding flavor and nutrition, a win-win!
- This recipe is fairly simple but there is a lot of chopping... onion, peppers, celery and carrots. I use my Vidalia Chop Wizard to quickly chop all of these veggies. It's a little kitchen workhorse for me and makes quick work of a tedious job. I love this super helpful kitchen assistant!
Thought for the day:
He is the one who comes after me,
the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.
”This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- ¾ cup canola corn, grape-seed, avocado or sunflower oil
- 1 ¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 12-16 ounces andouille sausage sliced about ¼-inch thick
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 medium bell peppers diced small
- 1 large sweet onion diced small
- 3 stalks celery diced small
- 4 medium carrots diced small
- 6 cloves garlic finely minced
- 5 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 2 medium-size bay leaves
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 28 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I use 2 14-ounce cans)
Season the chicken on both sides with kosher salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-duty pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes, undisturbed until light golden brown. Flip to the other side and repeat cooking for another 5 minutes.
When chicken is browned on both sides, remove it to a plate and set aside. Add the sliced sausage to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes or beginning to brown. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon to the bowl with the chicken.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add the rest of the oil to the pot. With a metal spatula or wooden spoon scrape off the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. (These will add great flavor to your roux.)
Add the flour, ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition, until all lumps have disappeared.
Continue to cook on medium-low, maintaining a low but steady simmer. Stir every 3-4 minutes (more frequently during the last 5-8 minutes) until the mixture reaches a deep golden brown color. This will take about 30-35 minutes, depending on your heat level. If the roux starts changing too color quickly, reduce the heat so it won’t burn.
Add the bell pepper, onion, celery and carrots and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, cook and stir for another 30 seconds.
Slowly add the chicken broth while stirring. Add the reserved chicken, sausage, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne and pepper.
Drain the fire-roasted tomatoes through a sieve. Add the drained liquid to the pot. With your fingers break up the tomatoes into smaller bits then add the tomatoes to the pot.
Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pull out the thyme stems and discard (most of the leaves will have fallen off). Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate and allow to cool. When cool, pull the chicken apart into bite-size pieces and return to the pot. Serve warm on its own or with jasmine or basmati rice.
See Café Tips above in post for more detailed instructions and tips.
This recipe serves 8-10.
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