I still can’t believe I’ve never been to New Orleans. And if you know me, you probably are wondering the same thing. Must.schedule.SOON! The food alone is worth the trip. I could eat Cajun cuisine every day.
Frank and I had our first date at Oddfellows, one of my favorite restaurants in Hoboken. I completely admit I had many-a-first-date there, as well as plenty of fun nights out with the girls, and a few too many evenings with waaaaay too many hurricanes. But the main reason I love it so much is the food. It’s delicious, it’s cheap, and it’s Cajun. Just like our gumbo was tonight.
I was happy to see that Denise from There’s a Newf in My Soup chose gumbo for this month’s Daring Cooks challenge…I never made it before and as I mentioned above, I love anything Cajun. I waited until tonight to make it (yep, today’s the deadline!) because I knew a group of us would be together for dinner…we’re still caring for my dad and sister who are recovering from their surgeries at my sister’s house. You have to cook this meal for a crowd – it’s just better that way.
The original recipe comes from John Besh and it doesn’t disappoint. One thing I did differently was use the Trader Joe’s chicken andouille sausage that I’ve raved about here before (I’ve used it in my paella) – there is zero sacrifice in taste and it’s so much better for you. Try it out – you’ll love it, I promise.
I would also recommend using a little more chicken – I ended up with lots of “juice” leftover but the chicken disappeared fast (I used 8 thighs). The original recipe calls for about 10 pieces, so I was short, unfortunately…but I think even a bit more than they recommend would be good. You could use more sausage, too…I used 2 packages, which is 8 links.
The roux is the most important part of this dish. DO NOT abandon it! Watch it like a baby. Don’t be intimidated – just follow the directions and all will be right in the world 🙂
Keep this recipe in mind the next time you have a casual get-together, a crowd for the big game, or a nice cool night where you just want to kick back with great food and some beers. It’s that kind of meal.
< Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook – by John Besh
1 cup canola oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons Creole spice blend
2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
3 quarts chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 cups sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Season the chicken with the creole spice and set aside. Cut vegetables in advance, before beginning the roux, and set aside.
In a large stockpot, add oil over high heat. Once it’s hot, add flour and lower heat to medium. Using a whisk, stir constantly for about 15 minutes. The roux should become a brown color. Once that happens, add the onions and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir with a wooden spoon constantly for about 10 minutes, until it becomes a glossy dark brown.
Turn the heat back up to medium and add the chicken. Cook until brown (turn once), about 10 minutes. Add sausage, stir, and cook another minute. Add celery, peppers, garlic and tomato and stir, cooking for another 3 minutes.
Add the thyme, stock and bay leaves. Bring gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add okra, worcestershire, salt, pepper and tabasco and stir. Simmer for another 45 minutes. Skim fat a few times while cooking. Remove bay leaves and serve over rice.