The idea of making a gumbo filled me with utter panic, knowing that it is an important – if not the important – dish in Cajun cooking and pretty much everyone is having an opinion on it. So I did a lot of research, recipe reading, and cooking show watching to come up with a game plan for my own gumbo version. I wanted it to be true to its heritage but also easy to accomplish. And I finally found a great solution on Alton Brown’s Good Eats show, where he shows how to make a foolproof perfect roux all the time. With this technique, whipping up a gumbo is no thread at all anymore.
Classic Cajun GumboDifficulty: Intermediate
- For the Roux
4 oz. / 120g All-Purpose Flour
4 oz. / 120g Vegetable Oil (I used Grapeseed and Peanut)
- For the Gumbo
2 cups Chopped White Onion
1 cup Chopped Green Bell Peppers
1 cup Chopped Celery Stalks
2 tbsp minced Garlic
1 tbsp minced Thyme
1 tbsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp (heaping) Cayenne Pepper
1 small can Diced Tomatoes
2 Bay Leafs
1 quart / 1l Stock
1 tbsp Gumbo filé
2 Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded
4 Louisiana Hot Links, sliced and browned
4 Andouille Sausages, sliced and browned
- To make the roux, use a big Dutch oven, whisk flour and oil together and place uncovered in a 350° oven for 1.5 hours. This will yield a perfectly brick roux which is an amazingly flavorful base for the entire dish.
- Get your roux from the oven and set it over medium-high heat. Add the trinity (onions, peppers, celery) and cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Whisk in the stock and stir in tomatoes, spices, and herbs.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
- While the base simmers, cut the sausages in slices and brown in a pan, draining all excess fat and set aside, together with the shredded chicken breast.
- Remove the Bay Leafs and mix in the meats. Stir in the gumbo filé to thicken the Gumbo to your desire and let it sit for about 10 minutes for the meat to reheat and then serve over rice or just by itself.
- For the stock, it depends on what kind of meats you add to the gumbo. If you’re going for seafood gumbo, you could use Shrimp Stock. I was using vegetable broth here and the flavor was great.
- It really is up to you, what kind of meats you want to put into your gumbo. The only staple is some kind of sausage, traditionally Andouille Sausage. Otherwise, Gumbo can have anything that moves or swims in it, according to Alton Brown at least. I found my approach with chicken and two different kinds of sausages very satisfying and hearty, yet not very sophisticated.