Quick Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
The first time I went to New Orleans, I was 18. It was July. I was moving to Boston with my boyfriend and we were taking the long way. We were supposed to camp, but as soon as we pulled into town, we stopped for gas and I tell you the lights over the gas pumps were completely blacked-out, literally covered by insects. Insects fucking EVERYWHERE, man.
I shook my head and said no way in Hell are we camping in this place.
We ended up staying at this super cool bed and breakfast called The Cornstalk Inn. So named because of the gorgeous cast metal fence around it that looked like cornstalks. As I recall, the dude that built the joint had a bride from somewhere corn grows and he built it to remind her of home. Aww. Twoo Wuv.
Anyway, did I mention I was a vegetarian at the time?
Although I had the beignets and the chicory coffee, I’m afraid I missed out on some of the best things New Orleans has to offer. Do not pity me too much, though, because I have since returned twice and eaten my fair share of gumbo, etouffee, and po’boys (and the best goddamn Bloody Marys in the universe). But when I was there that first time, I picked up this vegan Cajun cookbook, Good Time Eatin’ in Cajun Country. I’ve never actually made anything from it, but I did use it for inspiration to come up with this gumbo recipe. Which is Pretty Durn Tasty™!
But you know what? This is kind of a cheater’s gumbo. Cheater’s because it’s ready in under an hour. Authentic gumbo will take you all day. My pal David is from Lake Charles, Louisiana and when he makes gumbo, he spends about 2 hours on the roux alone. And it is some good motherfuckin’ gumbo, I tell you what.
However, I am not from Louisiana and I lack that incredible patience and so this is how I make a quick gumbo that tastes good, nonetheless. My lil trick is browning the Holy Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper) really well; you want the onions to be literally brown. That adds depth of flavor without spending two hours on browning the flour for the roux. I recommend serving this with some plain old white rice or some delicious, buttery slices of cornbread.Print
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
A quick version of a Creole favorite
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- 12 ounces andouille sausage links
- 1 pound chicken breast or thighs
- 2 tablespoons peanut, corn or vegetable oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- 1 medium onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 green bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 15 ounce can tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 12 ounces (3/4 pound) whole okra, fresh or frozen*
- 1 teaspoon file powder**
- Cooked rice or cornbread for serving
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and brown the sausages. Remove.
- Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and brown them on both sides. Remove.
- Add the other tablespoon of oil.
- Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook for 10 minutes until well-browned.
- Add the garlic and flour and stir. Cook about 3 minutes until the flour smells nutty.
- Add the spices, broth and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
- Add the chicken and sausage back to the pot. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Taste the broth for salt. Add salt if needed. The amount depends on how salty your chicken stock is, but probably start with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.
- Remove the chicken and sausage to a cutting board. Shred the chicken, slice the sausage, and add them back in along with the okra (still frozen if you’re using frozen okra) and parsley.
- Simmer another 10-15 minutes until the okra is cooked.
- Sprinkle file over top and stir it in.
- Serve over rice or with cornbread.
*Leave the okra whole for less slime-factor!
**File powder is made from the leaves of the sassafras tree. It adds an earthy, grassy taste and also has some thickening power. If you can’t find it, don’t sweat it. If you want to ask for it at your neighborhood fancy grocery store, it’s pronounced Fee-lay.
I’m not from Louisiana, either. But I had a Cajun aunt who made the best seafood gumbo I’ve ever eaten. Even in New Orleans. Even at K-Pauls. Oddly enough, while she talked quite often about chicken and sausage gumbo, I never got to taste hers. Even odder, it’s become my favorite gumbo. I, too, talk about it a lot. But very few people have tasted mine, either. Actually, it’s not mine. It’s Paul Prudhomme’s recipe. The reason why very few people have tasted mine is that Paul’s recipe calls for making a spicy fried chicken. To make it less of an ordeal, I would make the fried chicken a day ahead. And then I’d proceed to nibble and nibble away at the fried chicken until there wasn’t enough to make gumbo with. So even I haven’t tasted my chicken and sausage gumbo that often. Obviously, I need a new recipe. Given your genius for creating recipes that are delicious but simple to make, this is probably it. And fortunately, I have a freezer, so full of the most awesome homemade chicken stock ever made, that containers fall out every time I open the freezer door. It’s also crammed with chicken thighs, so I think I’ll use those instead of breasts.
Ahaha! A fascinating tale of the most elusive gumbo ever known to man.
My freezer is the same way, by the way. Crammed full of quart containers of stock and a few pounds of pork sausage, too. I should probably start making some pork sausage soup to clear it out a little.
Have fun with the recipe! I hope you make it today since IT’S RAINING IN AUSTIN!!! (Can you believe it?! I’m still in shock.)
Chere you forgot the squirrels.
Squirrel gumbo coming up next!
Oh, I know where the Cornstalk Inn is. . . or at least I have seen it. And Napolean House: best Pimm’s Cups ever (okay, I’m the total broken record on this subject, but come January we’re going!).
Pimm’s Cups! Pimm’s Cups! Pimm’s Cups! (That’s me chanting.)
Great recipe Hilah, when do I add parsley and spices?
Lisa,I am going to guess that you let them get too big. You want to pick them when they are maybe three or four inches long. When I pick them, if they have getton longer than my fingers, they get tossed on the ground rather than in the bucket. If they get too big, they are tough and woody . I’ve found the most reliable way to tell if they’re going to be good is to use sharp garden shears to clip them off the plant and listen to the sound they make. If it is a quiet, as though you were cutting through something soft and green, then the okra will be great. If you can hear it cutting through the fibers of the okra stem, it may have getton too big to eat. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll know what I’m saying when you cut them off the plant and listen and feel.
Awesome recipe. It was my first time with gumbo and won’t be my last with this recipe. Thanks Hilah!!