When I’m not writing, I love to cook. However, this wasn’t my day.(I should have kept on writing.) NEVERTHELESS, this is an AMAZING truly authentic New Orleans gumbo recipe.
A few weeks ago, Mical and I had a gumbo-making day. Because we live in New Orleans, we can eat excellent gumbo any day of the week in a myriad of restaurants. Besides having access to all that, we’re food snobs. So, for us to like gumbo, it has to be good. After trying a lot of recipes, year after year, I finally came across one we love. This recipe calls for one different ingredient and one unusual technique.
A huge part of a big cooking is gathering all the ingredients. Since Mical grocery shops for us, he dutifully went from one store to the next to find all the right stuff. Then on a Wednesday morning, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
We have a health-nut daughter so as a good mother I was trying to help her develop a gluten free recipe by using rice flour rather than regular all purpose.
Everything went splendidly that day. For supper, we had big bowls of steaming gumbo and congratulated ourselves on a job well done. It really was delicious, probably the best we’d ever made.
Because it takes all day to make, we then had to let it cool all night before we can put it in the freezer. So the next morning, we filled and labeled the seal-a-meal bags and put them in the freezer. After reserving a little for our lunch that day, we had a solid 18 quarts and congratulated ourselves again.
When I heated it up for lunch, it smelled a little odd, kind of like rice when it sours. I thought my sniffer had to be off and ladled Mical up a bowl. I held my breath as he took a bite. “How is it?” I asked.
He wrinkled his nose staring at it. Then shook his head. “Umm. Not good.”
I said, “Maybe we just left the lunch pan out too long this morning.” Then I got worried and said, “Uh, we better check what’s in the freezer.”
After we opened one bag, then two, and finally a third, we pulled the waste can over, loaded it with all 18 quarts of gumbo and hauled it to the trash. The rice flour had caused it to go bad.
This just goes to prove my point about trying to make recipes healthy. Don’t do it. God never intended rice to be flour.
The recipe using real flour is below. The first thing that sets this one apart is using a hen or baking chicken instead of a fryer. Because these are older birds, they’ve developed a lot more flavor. The second difference is what you do with the hen. I’ll explain in the recipe.
Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
Ingredients. Serves 8
1⅓ cup vegetable oil
5-6 pound hen or baking chicken, cut into 10 pieces (Breast halves are cut crosswise to make a total of 4 pieces)
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning (My favorite is Joe’s Stuff from the New Orleans School of Cooking, second is Tony Chachere)
1 1/2 pounds Andouille sausage, cut into ¼” discs
1 3/4 cup flour- separated
1 ½ lb onions, medium diced
¾ lb celery, medium diced
¾ lb green bell pepper, medium diced (Onions, celery and bell pepper make up the Holy Trinity. The ratio is always 2-1-1.)
1 lb sliced okra- optional
½ cup garlic, minced (What can I say? We love garlic.)
½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, according to how much heat you like
1 tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon pepper
4 bay leaves
3 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade.
4 green onions, sliced
Louisiana hot sauce, as needed
- Season cut of chicken pieces with salt, pepper, creole seasoning, and cayenne and set aside for 30 minutes. Then dust with 1/2 cup flour.
- Place a large, heavy skillet (I prefer black iron) over medium-high heat. Pour the oil into the skillet and brown in small batches to ensure it is evenly crusty-browned on all sides. Set batches of browned chicken aside.
- Brown the sausage about 3 minutes then remove sausage and let rest with chicken.
- Whisk the flour into the oil until it is smooth. Then use a square-nosed wooden spoon to continually scrape all the brown pan drippings into the roux. Constantly stir over medium-high heat until roux becomes the shade of dark chocolate. This can take up to 45 minutes. As the roux starts to get darker, I turn down the heat to medium in order to control it better. At this point, it can easily burn if you’re not standing right over it every second.
- When it gets to the color of dark chocolate, immediately add onion, celery, and bell pepper and stir like crazy. You want to stop the roux from browning anymore quickly. Continually mix as vegetables start to release their steam for about 2 minutes then stir in garlic, cayenne, salt, and bay leaves and continue to cook for one more minute.
- Slowly add stock, stirring constantly as gumbo starts to thicken. When all stock is added and sauce is smooth and shiny, add chicken and andouille back to pot and bring to simmer.
- Skim pot free of all fats and foam and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, and skimming as needed, for about 45 minutes to an hour. Begin checking the chicken for doneness. When it is tender, using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken parts from the pot and set aside to cool.
- Add the okra to the pot and continue to simmer another 30 minutes.
- When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones and discard. Chop meat into bite size pieces.
- When the gumbo is nearly done, add chopped chicken back to the pot and taste for seasonings. Serve over rice (Zatarains if you can get it), sprinkle green onions on top and serve with Louisiana hot sauce.