Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

This classic Cajun stew is perfect for a cold winter’s night – or pretty much any time.  The flavor profile is totally unique; if someone were to ask “What does gumbo taste like?” the answer is “It tastes like gumbo!”  And it is totally delicious.

Time: 90 minutes – 2 hours
Level: Intermediate (bordering on advanced, depending on your roux making skills)
Cost: About $4 per plate
Serves: 4- 6

Ingredients

  1. 4-6 chicken breasts, 2-3lbs package weight
  2. 12oz Cajun Andouille Sausage (I like Aidell’s brand), sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds (or “coins”)
  3. 1 cup all purpose flour, plus 2 TBSP, divided
  4. 3 TBSP Creole Seasoning
    • Note:  You can use any store bought brand such as Tony Cachere’s, but I prefer “Emeril’s Essence” (also referred to as “Bayou Blast) which you can buy in stores or make it yourself.  When opting to make it myself, I usually make it by the teaspoon rather than tablespoon, but the key is just to keep the ratios the same.
  5. Olive oil:  2 TBSP, plus a few drizzles to coat chicken for dredging
  6. 1 cup vegetable oil
  7. 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  8. 1 large yellow onion, diced
  9. 4 ribs celery, diced
  10. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  11. 3/4 cup okra (optional, some people don’t like it, but it’s what makes gumbo authentic)
  12. Dash Worcestershire sauce
  13. 2 140z cans low sodium chicken broth
  14. Cooked white rice, cooked according to package directions, for serving

Instructions

Add 2 TBSP olive oil plus sausage rounds to a dutch oven or large sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Sauté until sausage is well browned and most of the fat from the sausage has rendered, 5-7 minutes.  Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve in a medium size bowl.

In a another medium bowl, mix 3 TBSP all purpose flour with 3 TBSP creole seasoning.  Whisk to combine thoroughly.  Pat chicken breasts dry and rub each breast with a drizzle of olive oil.  Dredge the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour mixture and add to pan with sausage fat.  Fry breasts in sausage fat on each side, 2-3 minutes or until well browned.  Remove to a cutting board and reserve.

Note:  Don’t overcrowd the pan with the chicken; work in batches if you have to.  Add more fat to the pan between batches if you have to, either by adding extra olive oil, extra sausage fat from the bowl of reserved sausages, or both.  You want to develop a nice fond on the bottom of the pan, but you don’t want to burn anything.

Add onion, green pepper and celery to the pan (this combination is known as the Trinity of Cajun Cooking) and sauté until the vegetables and onion have released most of their moisture and the onions are mostly translucent, 5-7 minutes.  Stir constantly, scraping up any fond (brown bits) from the bottom of the pan to combine with the mixture.

Add garlic and sauté until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add okra (if using), and dash of Worcestershire sauce.  Add chicken broth to deglaze the pan and stir, scraping up any remaining brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add sausage and any drippings to the pot.  Cube chicken breasts on the cutting board (it’s okay if they’re still raw in the middle, they’re going to cook in the pot), and add to the pot.

Give everything a few good stirs to combine and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer.

While the stock is simmering, make your roux:

To make the roux, heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat until it is around 250°F – 300°F.  Whisking vigorously and constantly, slowly add the 1 cup flour to the oil, a few sprinkles at a time, until all the flour is incorporated.  Continue to whisk vigorously and constantly, cooking the flour in the oil.  Don’t stop whisking!  You will notice that the color of the roux changes from white, to blond, to peanut butter colored, to light brown, to dark brown (the color of beef stock).  Once the roux is the color of beef stock, remove from the heat and continue to whisk until significantly cooled.  While you are whisking your roux to cool, off the heat on the simmering pot completely.  (Did I mention don’t stop whisking?)

Note:  None of this is as hard as it sounds.  I got it on my first try.  Go slow, pay attention to what you’re doing and you’ll be fine.  DO follow the instructions below.

Note:  This will take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes depending on how much heat you are using.  The higher the heat, the more likely it is you will burn your roux and you will have to start over.  If you see black flecks in your roux, you have to discard it and start over, so use lower heat at first.  As the roux begins to darken it is not uncommon for it to smoke quite a bit.  Also, it is incredibly hot, so don’t try to taste it.

Note:  Adding the hot roux directly into the simmering pot will create an impressive explosion, sending lava-hot roux and boiling broth erupting like Vesuvius all over you and your kitchen.  I did this on the first go-round; don’t be like me.  Follow the instructions in the next paragraph instead…

Once the roux has cooled, take a ladle full of liquid from the pot and slowly whisk it into the roux, stirring constantly to combine.  Very carefully and slowly, add the roux mixture back into the pot, a little bit at a time, stirring constantly while you do this to combine.

Return pot to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and allow to reduce until thick and hearty, about 45 minutes.  Serve with steamed white rice and a crusty loaf of bread.

 

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