When the weather is cold, my thoughts often turn to gumbo. It is one of the iconic New Orleans dishes. With its infinite number of variations, there’s a gumbo to please everyone’s palate. To make a gumbo, first you must make a roux.
Today, I have included two different ways to make a roux. One is the traditional stove top method of constantly stirring to avoid burning. The second is an oven method, which is great for people who are multitasking. What would be an article about gumbo without a gumbo recipe? After the roux, you will find my Smoked Chicken and Andouille Gumbo. So, let’s stop reading and head to the kitchen!
Many Creole and Cajun dishes start with a roux. While I always include roux directions in the recipe, here’s one for those who like to make their roux in advance. Just remember, the longer you cook the roux, the darker it becomes. Along with the color, you also lose some thickening power the longer it cooks.
Equal parts Vegetable Oil or Butter and Flour
Heat oil in a pan over moderate to low heat. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, to the desired color. Remember, the darker the color, the less the roux will thicken the dish. Roux should be glossy in appearance. White Roux should be barely colored, or chalky. Pale or Blonde Roux should be golden straw colored, with a slight nutty aroma. Brown or Black Roux should be deep brown, with a strong nutty aroma. Add your seasonings (onions, garlic, bell peppers, etc.) before you add your liquid. Make sure your liquid is room temperature or cool. This will ensure a smooth sauce.
For those who don’t want to constantly stir a roux, here’s an option. You still get a great roux without the fear of it splashing on you. If you have never had roux burn you, consider yourself lucky.
Oven Roux Recipe
1 cup Salad Oil
2 1/2 cups Flour
Mix together and brown in 425℉ oven for one hour. Stir every 15 minutes. Cool and store in plastic container. Refrigerate leftover for other needs.
Here’s a twist on what is commonly called in New Orleans Gumbo Ya-Ya. Chicken and sausage are a great combination for gumbos, jambalayas and étouffées. For added flavor, I use smoked chicken and my favorite sausage, andouille.
Smoked Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
10 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch discs
1 (3-pound) smoked chicken, cut into bite size pieces
Hot sauce to taste
Cooked white rice for serving
In a stockpot, heat oil over moderately low heat. Gradually add flour and stir to combine. Continue to cook roux, stirring constantly, until it is the color of dark mahogany, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add bell pepper and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add onions and celery and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add the stock to roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add all remaining ingredients except chicken, hot sauce, and rice and bring to a boil. Simmer gumbo, uncovered, 45 minutes, skimming off any fat and stirring occasionally. Add chicken and simmer 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings with hot sauce. Serve hot over rice.
So whether it’s chicken and sausage or seafood, any protein makes a great gumbo. Don’t hesitate to add different spices and seasonings to your gumbo. The only rule of thumb that I have for gumbo is that it does not contain tomatoes. That’s the only time I would not try a gumbo.