How to Make a Louisiana Gumbo (for just a few or for 50!)
Even Santa Can't Resist my Gumbo!
It isn't a gumbo party until random Santa shows up!
(See the end if you are cooking for a larger crowd.)
Let's face it- you are going to be in the kitchen for a while, but the end result is absolutely delicious! So, relax, put on some Cajun tunes, grab a glass, and get to cookin' sha!
First of all, decide if this is going to be the recipe for about 6-8 people. If you want to make it for more like I usually do, just multiply the ingredients according to the number of people you are serving (for tips on how to do this, scroll to the end). Much of this recipe is a matter of eye-balling the measurements, so if it gets confusing, just ask! Everyone makes their gumbo a little differently, so if there are certain ingredients that you do not care for, feel free to alter the recipe to your liking!
Don't forget that you can always message me with questions.
Here is what you will need:
- 1 whole cut up chicken fryer (throw out gizzard and liver)
- Fresh garlic pod
- Bunch of green onions, diced
- Half of a bunch of celery, diced finely
- Green bell pepper, diced
- Stick of butter (Channel you inner Paula Deen)
- 1 package of andouille sausage (has a little kick)
- 1 package of tasso
- 2-3 yellow or white onions (I use white, but pick your favorite)
- Salt and Pepper
- Large pot
- White rice
- File' (not file, the spice file')
No gumbo is complete without a great potato salad!
I have an AMAZING recipe for a potato salad that is actually in another one of my hubs. Click the link to add this to your gumbo party! Some people put the potato salad instead of rice and others eat it on the side. Either way, it is a MUST (and so is garlic bread :) )!
Other Tasty Variations
Sometimes, just a normal chicken gumbo may not be what you are in the mood for, so here are a few suggestions so take it up a notch!
- Use Cornish hens instead of a regular chicken. If you have a local meat market like I do, you may be able to get pre-seasoned Cornish hens. Hold out on salting your gumbo until the end if you go this route though, because most likely it will be seasoned enough. My mom made hers this way one year and it is on my list of top 5 gumbos for sure.
- Duck and andouille gumbo- If you or someone you know is a hunter (such as my husband), there are often plenty of ducks to go around during hunting season. If you are getting tired of duck bombs (I will post this and several other appetizers soon), then use regular chicken stock, boil the duck before you add it into the gumbo, and throw the water you boiled the duck in away. I have found that my better duck and andouille gumbos are when I go this route. This way, you boil a bit of the "gamey" flavors out. Then use andouille sausage for an extra kick of flavor.
- Seafood gumbo- this is not something I cook often, but not because it is not tasty, i just prefer one of the other options. Good suggestions to add into your seafood gumbo: oysters and shrimp- there are many more seafood additions that you may include, but these 2 are my favorites!
- Add okra to any of the above for a change in flavor! One of my grandmothers used to always put okra in her gumbo and it was pretty good! The only thing, if you are not used to eating okra, is that when okra is boiled, it can be kind of slimy. So, don't add this if you do not LOVE okra! Dice the okra before adding to the gumbo.
How to Make Your Roux
Roux takes the longest to prepare out of anything, so I recommend starting this first. There are 3 different ways that you can make your roux.
#1 RULE OF MAKING ROUX: If it burns, toss it!! It will ruin your whole gumbo.
1) The traditional way (see video below)
2) In the microwave
Mix 2/3 cup of flour and 2/3 cup of vegetable oil in a microwave safe container (I have used butter before too) and microwave for between 5-8 minutes. Roux is finicky, so watch it or even take it out to stir it every few minutes to make sure it does not burn.
3) Cheat!! There are several different brands that are wonderful, but when i am making a big gumbo and do not feel like nursing the roux for hours over the stove, I use either Savoie's or Richard's Roux and use a mix of the light and dark.
Chop and Saute' Your Vegetables
How finely you dice your vegetables is a matter of taste, but I like to dice them up pretty small so that they pretty much melt into your gumbo in the end. Take the onions (both kinds), bell pepper and celery, dice them, and put them into separate bowls. The reasoning behind this is that you may chose to not use all of each vegetable, and this way you can freeze them individually if you have any extra.
***Take the green onions and set aside. These I do not saute'.
Once you have everything chopped, saute' each vegetable separately (I do white onion and celery together) with about a half of a tablespoon of butter (or more if you prefer or if it begins to burn). I cook this over about a medium heat so that the vegetables can cook slowly enough to just change color and not burn. You may salt and pepper the vegetables as they cook, but do not put too much, otherwise your gumbo will turn out like a salt lick!
Set all of the vegetables aside.
Making Your Chicken Stock
Some people prefer to buy the store bought chicken stock, but I say why bother! Boil your own chicken and save the money and gain the flavor!
Take your gumbo pot, fill it with water and just a tiny bit of salt, and put your cleaned chicken in there to boil. Set on high heat and boil the chicken until it is almost falling off of the bone (About an hour or so). Once the chicken is cooked, take it out of the stock to let it cool. Next I throw away all of the chicken skins, fat and bones so that you are left with just the meat.
Pour out or save about half of the chicken stock- you may need more later on once everything is cooking in the pot. Now you can put the chicken meat back into the pot along with your vegetables that you have already sauteed.
I LOVE garlic and put it in pretty much everything that I can. The best way to add garlic to your gumbo is with fresh garlic and a garlic press. I use about 1/4 of a garlic pod or about 4 cloves. You can use more or less to your liking (as everything else!).
At this point, I add in about 1/4 of the green onions to let them cook down. I garnish the top of the gumbo with more in the end. If you love green onions, add more in!
Saute' the Sausage and Tasso
Next, or at least somewhere in between sauteing the vegetables and creating your stock, saute' the sausage and tasso in some butter to lock in the flavor. I do not season either of these because there is already plenty of flavor in them and you do not want to over-season them. Some people simply slice the sausage one way, but I like to quarter it so that you have smaller bites of sausage throughout the gumbo (same for the tasso).
As far as the brand of sausage goes, this is also by preference. I use Savoie's or Richard's, but there is also Manda and many other brands available. The best sausage of course comes from a local butcher that makes their own, but if you do not have access to one, any of those brands (or your favorite) will suffice.
This only takes a few minutes, and make sure to cook over medium heat at a max. I find that cooking them at high only makes the outsides char and the insides dry out. Once the meat is all browned, go ahead and add this into the chicken stock, chicken and vegetables that you already have cooking.
Add in the Roux and Have a Cookie- You Are Done!
The next step is the last and easiest- Add in your roux that you made earlier. i add anywhere from 3-5 tablespoons of roux. The good news here is that you cannot mess up! Remember the chicken stock that you saved from earlier? If you put too much roux, add some of this in to thin it out. If your gumbo is not thickening up enough, then add a little more roux.
While your gumbo is cooking, it is best to have a stash of cookies or goodies on the side to have with you glass of wine or beer. Now you have time to pop in a movie and wait a couple of hours while your gumbo cooks down.
Season to taste at this point. Since you have already seasoned the vegetables and the meats all have their own seasoning in them, you do not want to add too much seasoning and make it too salty- it is hard to fix once you cross that path.
TIP FOR RE-HEATING: If you plan on cooking your gumbo ahead of time then cooling it in the fridge, make sure that you reheat on low heat. If you don't the gumbo will BURN! This is experience talking here, so you can trust me on that one.
NOW MAKE SOME RICE AND ENJOY YOUR CAJUN GUMBO!!! (add file' to taste)
Cookies for Your Reward!
Cooking for a Larger Crowd?
If you are making this recipe for more than 6-8 people:
Take whatever number you are cooking for and divide by 8- then take this number and multiply it by each part of the recipe. I have found that when I cook mine for my annual Christmas party (for about 50 people) I use 3 whole chickens, 3 packs of sausage, 2 tasso, and the rest of the recipe is multiplied by the recommended way that I just mentioned. Make sure to have extra chicken stock and roux on hand so that you can thin the gumbo or thicken it as desired.
***Also, I normally cook 2 gumbos for this party, but if you have a burner and large cast iron pot, you can cook a gumbo this size. I just prefer to cook mine indoors!