Every year for Thanksgiving my husband or his mother will make a gumbo. This makes sense because the weather is finally cooling off and for sure gumbo is a cool weather food. Notice that I said I don’t make the gumbo? I have a lot of Irish in my blood absolutely no Cajun. That means I’m not the best cook and definitely should not be trusted with family recipes! My mother-in-law is from Ville Platte and this is her recipe. You’ll notice it doesn’t contain any seafood either. Ville Platte is distinctly land-locked and she grew up on a farm which means lot of chickens, but very few shrimp.
One note: Gumbo takes a while to make. The first step, making the roux, can be done in advance. My husband always makes his roux in advance just to save time. Making a roux makes a lot of smoke too. We often have to open up the doors on our little house to avoid setting off the smoke detector!
Making a Roux
Gumbo starts with a roux. My mother in law has several thoughts on making a roux and I’ll share them with you:
You must stir your roux continuously! If you do not, the roux will burn and then it has to be thrown out.
If you are new to roux making, start with your heat on low. You may eventually feel brave enough to make your roux at medium heat.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups vegetable oil
1 whole chicken (fryer)
2 pounds cajun sausage (some of the best Cajun sausage in the world comes from Laplace, Louisiana, but if that’s not feasible look for something pork based. Our grocery store favorite is Richard’s).
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, roughly chopped
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped red pepper
3/4 cups chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 heaping tablespoon chicken bouillon
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Step One: To make a roux you begin with equal parts flour and oil. My mother-in-law uses olive oil, but any vegetable oil will do. While you are working on your roux, have an eight quart pot on the stove with water coming to a boil. (Start with approximately four quarts of water. You can add water later if needed)
Step Two: When you roux is ready, remove it from the heat
Step Three: Put your meat (sausage and chicken) into the pot with the boiling water.
Step Four: Add 1.5 cups of roux to the water.
Step Five: Add your celery, onion, red bell pepper, green pepper, parsley, garlic, and chicken bullion.
Step Six: Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
Step Seven: Let simmer for at least an hour. Chicken should be so tender it’s falling off the bone. Let the gumbo cool.
Step Eight: pull out the sausage and cut into bite-sized pieces
Step Nine: Pull out the chicken and let cool in a bowl. Remove meat from the bones and return it to the pot. Discard the carcass.
Gumbo is traditionally served over white rice. It freezes great (I have a big container in my freezer right now). It’s definitely a cold weather food. If you have a lot of turkey left over the day after Thanksgiving, you can substitute that for the chicken in this recipe for a special Thanksgiving gumbo.
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