Smoked sausage and tender bites of chicken are simmered in a salty, spicy, gravy-like broth to make this classic Cajun dish. When I was very young, probably around 11-12 years old, my family visited with some friends from New Orleans. I remember tasting gumbo for the first time and loving it. My friend Michelle served it with a scoop of rice underneath and a scoop of potato salad on top. (Stay with me here, the combination truly works!)
A few months ago, I started thinking about that gumbo and wondering why I'd never tried making it on my own. I tracked down my friend Michelle on Facebook and she was kind enough to write out her recipe for me. I've played with it a bit, but the base is mostly the same. I was very happy to see that her recipe includes a dry roux. I'm still intimidated by a traditional dark roux and this was as easy as could be with little danger of burning as it browned! This is a basic meat-lover's gumbo recipe and my boys all LOVED it.
If you are hesitant to toss the potato salad on top of the gumbo, serve it on the side as pictured. Whatever you do, don't stir it in! You'll want a bit of rice, potato salad and gumbo in each bite on your spoon. The combination is delicious.
COOK'S NOTE: Don't salt the gumbo. The sausage plus the Cajun seasoning spice mix should be plenty of salt all by itself. Taste and adjust as it nears the end of its simmering time.
Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo
Yield: 8-12 servings
1 whole chicken, about 3 lbs
1 onion, chopped small
14 ounce package smoked sausage
14 ounce package polska kielbasa
2 teaspoons Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning spice mix, add more at the end to taste
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 cup of all purpose flour, I used brown rice flour and it worked great
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped small (Michelle says that a cup or so of dried parsley works fine as well)
Optional: Potato salad *
Place the chicken, onion and the spices in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the chicken falls off the bone. (This should take 60-90 minutes.) When the chicken is done, remove the whole chicken from the broth and save the broth in the pot. You should have 8-10 cups of broth. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, pull all the meat off the bones in bite size pieces and return it to the pot.
While the chicken is cooling, slice the sausage into 1/4" thick rounds and brown it in a large skillet over medium high heat. When it has browned on both sides, place the sausage and any drippings into the pot with the broth. (Searing the sausage prevents it from swelling when you cook it in the broth.) Continue to cook the sausage and the chicken in the broth over medium heat, stirring frequently so that the chicken doesn't sit on the bottom of the pot for too long and burn.
While the meats start simmering in the broth, you are going to make a dry roux (a.k.a. browned flour). Place the flour in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Stir constantly as the flour begins to brown. When it is about the color of caramel, place it in the gumbo mixture. Test to make sure the soup is hot enough first, by dropping a teaspoon of the browned flour into the soup. You should hear a sizzling sound. If it sizzles, add the rest of the flour.
Stir to combine the flour with the broth. It will turn a very dark brown, almost chocolate color. Add the parsley and then reduce the heat to a low simmer for about an hour. It will thicken as you cook it. When done, taste and add whatever seasoning is needed. Put the cooked rice in a wide bowl or on a plate and serve the gumbo on top of it. Serve potato salad on top or on the side if desired. Enjoy!
* I used this potato salad recipe. Although, I skipped the olives in the potato salad recipe, because that just didn't sound right with the gumbo. What do I know though? Use your favorite potato salad and enjoy!
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