Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Chicken and sausage gumbo made easy, with authentic Cajun taste. Make a pot for your next party and serve it in cups! 

Dark roux and gumbo is the smell of my grandmother’s house in New Iberia after a long drive from Houston in the winter and the warmth of family greetings and big hugs.  My grandmother is gone now, but gumbo simmering on the stove brings me back to her big round kitchen table where she always sat, chopping and dicing and preparing vegetables or stuffing a roast for the next meal.

My maternal grandmother, Wanda Fleming Gautreaux, sitting in her usual chair in her yellow kitchen.
Being in that yellow kitchen with her made me happy!
And some of my fondest college memories are of visits from my College Station/Houston/Beaumont friends who would come to Austin for the weekend.  Sometimes we went out to enjoy the nightlife of Sixth Street but more often than not, we would stay in, have a number of drinks and make chicken and sausage gumbo.  Truly, I am never happier than when I am in the kitchen, surrounded by friends and family, perhaps sipping some red wine, and stirring a roux.

In most gumbo recipes, you are supposed to cut the chicken in pieces and brown it first.  Unfortunately, I usually find myself starting with the bird still frozen, (Who can remember to take anything out of the freezer in the morning!) so I have developed this method.   Yesterday, I didn’t have a frozen bird, but I stuck to my usual program anyway.

3 1/2 pound or 1 1/2 kilo chicken (If you can find a hen, use her instead. More flavor.) 
Additional chicken breasts (optional)
1 lb or about 500g smoked sausage, sliced in rounds, about ½ inch thick
2 medium onions
1 green bell pepper (capsicum)
4 celery sticks, de-stringed
1 1/2 cups or 190g plain flour
1 cup or 240ml oil (I prefer canola.)
Sea salt
Black pepper
Chicken bouillon or stock cubes

For serving: Light sprinkling of gumbo filé. 

Put whole (frozen or not) chicken to boil in pot with about a gallon of water, about 2 teaspoons of salt and good couple of grinds of fresh black pepper. (If it is frozen and you can’t get the bag of giblets out, don’t worry.  Keep checking back and get it out when the chicken thaws enough.)

Chop onions, bell pepper and celery and put aside in one bowl for later.

My bell pepper looks a little frozen because it was.  I chopped it over the weekend when I thought I was going to make gumbo but, then, couldn't find celery.  As long you are not using it for salad, bell pepper keeps great in the freezer.  So do onions and celery, for that matter. 
In separate pot, preferably a black iron skillet or some other heavy gauge vessel, mix flour and oil.  This is called the roux.  Cook over medium to medium high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until roux begins to turn brown. 

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 Depending on temperature and the thickness of your pot, you may have to stir constantly because roux has a tendency to burn.  A medium heat is safer; it just takes longer.  Continue cooking until the roux turns a very dark, chocolate brown.  Should the roux burn (Everyone does it at least once, so don’t feel too bad.) toss it out and start again, otherwise the entire gumbo will have that burnt taste.

27 minutes - it looks delicious but do NOT try to taste it.  It's hotter than the hinges of hell
and will burn your mouth off.  Also it doesn't actually taste good. 
The roux will be VERY hot so be careful when handling it and try to stir without splashing on yourself or nearby “helpers.” 

In fact, it's best if you make the helpers go sit on their beds. 
Add the chopped vegetables and stir. This cools your roux down without too much spitting.

By this time your chicken (or hen) should be falling off its bones.  (If not, turn the roux off, giving it a couple of more stirs, and let the chicken boil for a little longer.)  A good sized hen may take up to two hours to fall off her bones. 

Take the chicken out of the pot, leaving behind the stock, and allow it to cool until you can handle it.  Discard bones and skin, leaving meat in fairly large chunks.

Add stock from the chicken pot gradually to the roux.  Never add roux to stock, always stock to roux.  It may bubble up considerably, depending on how hot your roux is, so when I say gradually, I do mean ladle by ladle.  Stir between ladles.

When the roux has thinned considerably, then you can add the whole mixture back into the stockpot.

Add the sliced sausage.  And the additional chicken breasts if desired.

I cut these into fairly large chunks so they don't disintegrate into shredded chicken. 

Let simmer until the sausage and breasts, if using, are cooked and you are ready to eat.  Depending upon how fatty your sausage is, you might need to use a serving spoon to skim the oil off of the top of the gumbo before serving.

Add the deboned chicken meat and make sure it is warmed through.  Add chicken cubes, as necessary, instead of salt, for more flavor.  Add freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste.

Serve in bowls over a large spoonful of cooked white rice with a couple of drops of hot sauce and a sprinkle of gumbo filé (ground sassafras leaves), if you have it.   We also often serve with fresh baguette slices to dip. 



  1. Oh wow Stacy! looks amazing, I will give it a go. Thank you for all the pics it certainly helps and I always need a Beso fix.

  2. Let me know how it goes when you try it. I need a Jane fix right now! When are you coming?

  3. Hi from Little Rock!

    I am Gen Evans Abdella, Belinda Patrick's aunt and Ann Biundo's sister. Ann told me about your blog and I just love it!

  4. Hi, Aunt Gen! : ) Thank you for your kind words. Your niece and sister are just the loveliest people so I am sure you are too!

  5. Oh how good this looks!! I have a terrible time with dark roux - I've burned it more times than I car to admit but the kids love this and it freezes so doggone well, it makes lunch for weeks for several people so totally worth it. I'm changing mine a big for your suggestions, how could I argue with a grandmother from New Iberia?!?! I love the picture of her to. I am Google + this one!

  6. It does freeze beautifully, Kelli! I almost always have a Ziploc of gumbo in my freezer because it just gets better and better. I am making fresh today since I have a guest coming for dinner. I don't think I belonged to Google+ when I first posted this. I should probably add it.

  7. First of all, what a completely gorgeous gumbo! Beautiful roux--I generally cook with lighter roux because I am lazy. Yours is lovely (and I promise that when I make gumbo I will be patient and make a dark roux)>

    Second, hooray for us frozen chicken cookers! <3

  8. Gumbo definitely needs a dark roux, Jenni. Did you see how dark it looks once the chopped vegetables are added? It seems to darken even more before you start to add the broth. And, yes, hooray for cooking from frozen! Who plans that far ahead? Those folks need to get a life!.


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