March 1, 2011

Drick's Chicken & Cajun Sausage Gumbo - Number 1 Favorite Mardi Gras Food

Believe it or not...

Chicken and smoked sausage are the two most used ingredients in the south when making gumbo, more so than seafood like shrimp, crab or oysters. In fact, this gumbo is most popular during the Mardi Gras season, even in my house when large crowds come-a-calling. It's fairly simple to make, feeds a crowd and holds well during the afternoon or evening as guest come and go.

The basis for a good gumbo always starts with a good roux. Everyone has their own way I suppose, but I believe a dark roux (dark Creole brick color) works best for light foods like chicken and seafood, a blond roux (the color of light brown sugar) does better for dark meats like duck, turtle meat, so on, and in the middle is the medium tan roux (peanut butter to milk chocolate in color) that does okay for most everything, especially okra or a greens medley like Z'Herbes. What's the difference? All in the taste. You see, the darker the roux the more intense the flavor, a nuttier, almost roasted flavoring agent that adds an element of taste in Creole and Cajun cuisine. Now, the darker the roux, the more you will need to add in volume to aid in thickening, normally four times as much as that of a light roux. Depending on the type of gumbo I am making, I like to toss in the onions immediately when the darker roux color is right and quickly toss them around. They will sizzle, pop and hiss at you but that's all right, the brown caramelize flavor will add a totally different depth of flavor; you see, adding all of the vegetables at once sometimes puts just too much stress (or liquid) for the roux.

Gumbo is almost always thickened with a roux, sometimes with both a roux and okra and sometimes with file'. All three are thickeners but are also very different in altering taste. I believe file' should never be added until the end of cooking, while removing from the heat as simmering can affect the taste and break down the thickening power. I normally serve file' at the table allowing guest to sprinkle it on at will, more for taste than for a thickener. I depend on a roux and okra for binding.

On special occasion, shrimp or oysters are added to Chicken and Sausage Gumbo making for holiday or Sunday fare.  The type of sausage depends on your region but in respect to a good gumbo, a good spicy smoked sausage is a must. Andouille, Cajun Smoked or any good flavored smoked southern sausage is the choice. And as for the chicken, why a good ol' stewing hen works just fine. Something to be said 'bout tough old birds.

So, after years of making this for friends and family stopping by before or after parades, normally doubling the recipe making it in two large stockpots, I share with you my Mardi Gras Gumbo... Enjoy!

Oh, and here are a few snaps on my phone as I left work today...

large props coming in from a party



Buckets ready to load for next event

Now for the recipe:

Drick's Chicken & Cajun Sausage Gumbo

1 large (5 lb) stewing hen
1 large onion, quartered
1 rib celery, halved
1/4 green bell pepper
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
3 pounds Andouille or Cajun Smoked sausage cut into 1 inch slices
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons fat, lard or oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, diced
3/4 green bell pepper, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1/8 or more cayenne
1 -14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups 1/2-inch sliced fresh okra or 1 -20 oz bag frozen

For garnishment:
Gumbo File'
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Several varying bottles of hot sauce
White rice

Place the hen and the next 4 ingredients in a large stockpot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with at least 2 1/2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Strain the stock into a large container and discard the vegetables. Return the pot to the stove and cook the sausage on medium low with a little water for about 15 minutes. Remove sausage and discard the liquid and grease. Wipe out the pot.

Meanwhile, skim and remove the grease from the stock and keep the stock hot.
Add the fat or lard into the pot over medium high heat and stir in the flour to make the roux. Stir with a flat tip paddle spoon lifting the flour from the bottom of the pan as you stir. Turn down the heat to medium low as the roux begins to brown, normally around the tan stage, and even lower as it darkens, about 30 minutes total in making the roux. Remove from heat and stir in the onions mixing well. Toss a minute or two until caramelized and stir in the bell pepper and celery. Cook and stir another 5 minutes returning pot back to the stove.

Add about 2 quarts of stock to the pot, a little at a time stirring all while to incorporate into the roux slowly. Add the tomatoes, okra and the seasonings, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook covered for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, de-bone the chicken and break meat into bite size pieces. Spoon a little stock over meat to keep moist.

Add the chicken and sausage and cook another 15 minutes.
Serve with white rice, a sprinkle of file' and a spoonful of chopped green onions and parsley.

Notes: I many times after cooking, add the gumbo to a large slow cooker or two, and hold at warm temperature until guest are ready for a bowl or second helping.
Also, like many south Louisiana gumbos, this recipe makes a thinner base than most seafood type gumbos but it thickens by the second day, when gumbo is really its best.

20 comments :

  1. This sounds absolutely wonderful...would love try something like this. Blessings, Catherine

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  2. Wow this is a lovely idea for Lunch...looks very inviting

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  3. keep these awesome Mardi Gras recipes coming fabulous job love it! have fun my friend!

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  4. I loved the roux instructions! I've only made one gumbo in my life (It was Gumbo Ya Ya from Gourmet Mag) and I had to do the dark roux. I stood in front of the stove stirring for 45 minutes before it got dark enough and at the end of the meal everything tasted like cooked butter and flour because that's all I could smell. So, instead of making this, can I just come over and eat yours? :)

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  5. @The Mom Chef - Christiane, I am one to think butter, even clarified, will not hold up for the long, high heat it takes to make a dark roux, but that is just the way I cook.....

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  6. How tasty Drick, Mardi Gras is such a celebration to share with friends and family, I can imagine you have many guests this time of year!! super recipe and thanks for the tips on roux, have a great week
    sweetlife

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  7. Mmm, mmm look at that dark roux! I can almost smell that nutty goodness. I am so jealous of all the fun you are having!!

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  8. Great lesson about the roux and it is definitely all about the roux in this kind of cooking! Love the gumbo. I had some in NOLA< but will have to try your recipe.

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  9. I just bought a gumbo hen and will be making a gumbo very similar to this one, for a pre-ball party. Great recipe, although I am partial to a tan roux for most dishes, including gumbo. Wish that I could taste yours, though, it looks divine! Have fun, cher!

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  10. Greetings from Southern California

    I added myself to follow you.
    I invite you to visit and follow my blog.

    God bless you :-)

    ~Ron

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  11. you are the gumbo expert! I prefer the sauce the darker the better!

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  12. Oh how I wish I could transport myself down below the Mason Dixon for all the good eats and celebrations!

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  13. Love the info on roux :)
    Wonderful recipe for gumbo...hope you are enjoying all the festivities :)

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  14. I definitely have to try this!!! Awesome!!!!

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  15. Mmmm....looks very delicious. Maybe instead of cooking a big pot to feed a crowd, I should cook a big pot and feed my family for a month. I will sit, shake legs and relax...hehe. Have fun at Mardi Gras!

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  16. Love love love gumbo. This looks delicious!

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  17. Love the gumbo recipe, and the roux pictures!

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  18. I wish I'd read your post first before making my gumbo...the info on the roux would've been sooo useful! Oh well, theres always a next time, and looking at your photos, I've got to make it to Mardi Gras someday!

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  19. Looks delicious!!

    I had never cooked a gumbo before today and I am really pleased to have added this dish to me recipes.

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  20. Nice! Ours were definitely more of the blond roux! Great colour to yours!

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