Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Ingredients

1 tsp. Olive Oil

1 lb. Chicken Thighs chopped – (or chicken breast)

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)

12 oz. Andouille (sliced into ¼ inch slices)

½ cp. Vegetable Oil (or Peanut Oil)

½ cp. Flour

1 medium Bell pepper chopped

1 medium Onion chopped

1 medium Celery Stalk chopped

3 cloves Garlic chopped

1 cp. Okra (I used frozen)

2 tbsp. Cajun Seasoning (or more to taste)

6 cps. Chicken Stock

3 Bay Leaves

4 tbsps. chopped parsley + more for serving

1 tbsps. Filé powder (or to taste)

Cooked White Rice (to serve)

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A bit about Gumbo

Gumbo (Louisiana Creole: Gombo) is a stew popular in the U.S. state of Louisiana and is the official state cuisine. Gumbo consists primarily of a strongly-flavoured stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the Creole “holy trinity” ― celery, bell peppers, and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used, whether okra or filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves).

Gumbo can be made with or without okra or filé powder. The preferred method in the historical New Orleans variation is with a French dark roux. The flavor of the dish has its origins in many cultures. Creole gumbo generally contains shellfish, and a dark roux, filé, or both. Tomatoes are traditionally found in Creole gumbo and frequently appear in New Orleans cuisine but there is a “camp” of gumbo cooks who believe that tomatoes should not be used with okra. Cajun gumbo is generally based on a dark roux and is made with shellfish or fowl. Sausage or ham is often added to gumbos of either variety. After the base is prepared, vegetables are cooked down, and then meat is added. The dish simmers for a minimum of three hours, with shellfish and some spices added near the end. If desired, filé powder is added after the pot is removed from heat. Gumbo is traditionally served with rice. A third, lesser-known variety, the meatless gumbo z’herbes, is essentially a gumbo of slow-cooked greens.

The dish combines ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including African, French, Spanish, and Native American Choctaw. Gumbo may have been based on traditional native dishes or maybe a derivation of the French dish bouillabaisse, or Choctaw stew, but most likely all of these dishes contributed to the original recipe. It was first described in 1802, and was listed in various cookbooks in the latter half of the 19th century. The dish gained more widespread popularity in the 1970s, after the United States Senate dining room added it to the menu in honour of Louisiana Senator Allen Ellender. The popularity of chef Paul Prudhomme in the 1980s spurred further interest in the dish.

The name of the dish comes most likely from Africa by way of Louisiana French. Scholars and chefs have offered various explanations for the etymology of the word “gumbo”. The dish was likely named after one of its two main ingredients, okra or filé. In the Niger-Congo languages spoken by many enslaved people from West Africa, the vegetable okra was known as ki ngombo or quingombo; the word is akin to the Umbundu ochinggômbo and the Tshiluba chinggômbô “okra”. In the language of the native Choctaw people, filé, or ground sassafras leaves, is called kombo.

Variations

Gumbo is a heavily seasoned stew that combines several varieties of meat or seafood with a sauce or gravy.  Any combination of meat or seafood can be used.  Meat-based gumbo may consist of chicken, duck, squirrel, or rabbit, with oysters occasionally added. Seafood-based gumbo generally has shrimp, crab meat, and sometimes oysters.  Andouille sausage is often added to both meat and seafood gumbos to provide “piquancy, substance, and an additional layer of flavour” to the dish. The key is to use tender andouille so it does not become too chewy.  Most varieties of gumbo are seasoned with onions, parsley, bell pepper, and celery.  Tomatoes are sometimes used in seafood gumbo, but traditionally few other vegetables are included.

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I would love to hear your comments on the Gumbo. Craig

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