Saturday, May 14, 2011

Daring cooks -gumbo

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh. I even have a copy of this book myself as my husband bought it for me after our visit to New Orleans last year. So I used the recipe out of the book.

Of course I did not follow the recipe completely not only because I am incapable of doing that, but because I could not find all the ingredients.  Okra was no where to be found, but I am not sure I really tried as do not like the slimy texture of okra that much and it was fine with out.  Also file powder does not appear to be readily available, I am sure if I had tried harder I would have found it, but I did not start to look until the afternoon I was cooking it.

1 cup of rendered chicken fat or oil ( I used a mixture)
1 cup  flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons Creole spice, or store-bought Creole spice blend (see below)
2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers , seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 quarts (3 liters) chicken stock
2 bay leaves
6 ounces  andouille sausage, chopped (I used a spicy chorizo)
2 cups ) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (I omitted this)
1 tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste (not me)
Tabasco, to taste

Creole spices

2 tablespoons  celery salt
1 tablespoon  sweet paprika
1 tablespoon  coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon  freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons  cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon  ground allspice

The first thing to do was make a dark brown roux.  This is essential to a gumbo, I had read and heard about this many times, and have made thousands of roux in my time but never a dark brown one.  Any nothing ventured nothing gained.

In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

Roux just starting to cook
Mid brown roux

Dark brown roux (or as dark brown as I dared to go)
The recipe said to whisk and not use a wooden spoon and they were right it seemed to keep it from burning better.  I think I chickened out before it got really dark but you could certainly taste the difference this dark roux made to the taste of the sauce.

Add the chopped onions stirring them into the roux with a wooden spoon, reduce the heat to medium and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the roux is dark brown and the onions are cooked.

Meanwhile season the chicken with the creole spices.

The recipe tells you to add the chicken to the roux at this point and brown.  But I cheated a little I browned the chicken first so that I could use the chicken fat in the roux.  So I added the already browned chicken.  Then add the smoked sausage

Stir this for a minute to coat with the roux and onions. Then add the celery, green pepper and garlic.  Stir all together then add the thyme chicken stock and bay leaves.

Cook for about 45 minutes simmering and stirring occasionally. Then add the chorizo or anduille if you can find it.  This would also be the time to add the okra. and file powder.  Cook for a further 45 minutes on low skimming fat off in needed.

Serve with rice.

This was delicious and the brown roux and smoked sausage gave it a wonderful flavour quite different from any thing I had had before.  Because I had this challenge I decided to go the whole hog and cook a New Orleans meal and have some friends over. What a wonderful excuse to have a party and enjoy some good food.

I made beignets and black eyed peas what a feast.  Thank you for the challenge as always forcing me to try new techniques and pushing me out of my comfort zone.


  1. I am jealous of your smoked sausage! Mine was rather homogeneous looking. Lovely gumbo.

  2. Wonderful looking gumbo and it looks so delicious lovely result and good to hear that you made a feast of Southern dishes so did I.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.