Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cajun Style Chicken Gumbo

Miss Lucy's Cajun Style Chicken Gumbo - a delicious and easy gumbo made with a roux, the Trinity of vegetables and using a whole chicken and andouille sausage.
Chicken Gumbo, made in the one pot tradition of Cajun style. A delicious and easy gumbo made with a roux base, the trinity of vegetables and using a whole chicken and full flavor andouille sausage.

Miss Lucy's Cajun Style Chicken Gumbo

I've talked before about being a big fan of Miss Lucy H. Zaunbrecher's old show, Classic Cajun Culture and Cooking and her Louisiana recipes. It used to come on local PBS station, and sometimes  I've caught her on the RFD-TV station too though I haven't seen it on anywhere in a very long time.

Her recipe is a little different method from how I usually do a classic roux gumbo (roux, veggies, liquid), but I tried to stay pretty true to her method - Cajun one-pot cooking, simplified!

I usually use Savoie brand andouille sausage which is a highly seasoned, spicy smoked Cajun sausage from Louisiana, or Conecuh from Alabama, but you can substitute regular smoked sausage if you don't want it too spicy, because it does give it a hefty bite. Andouille can often be a little much for some folks, so unless you're already seasoned in Cajun fire, stick with a regular smoked sausage and just adjust seasonings to taste.

Cajun and Creole cooking is not about fiery burn your mouth off spice or heavy red pepper! It is about the layering of flavors and seasonings that enhance the dish, with just a bit of a bite at the back of your tongue to awaken your senses and maybe clear your sinuses a tad.

I usually let my chicken gumbo go for anywhere to 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the meat essentially falls off of the bone, and just fish out the skin and bones at the end. Be mindful of that with bone-in chicken though are make sure everybody checks for any bones you may have missed!  I usually cook my chicken gumbo roux to a medium dark - like the color of a rich bar of milk chocolate - but you could also take this one darker. My dark oven roux would work well here too.

Southern Style Hissy Fit Warning: I do want to say one thing about roux, that I've repeated on all of my gumbo posts. Roux can be brought anywhere from very blonde, to light tan for gravies, to peanut butter colored, or more ruddy, like a copper penny, to chocolaty brown, to deep brown, to nearly black - or anywhere in between for gumbo. Bottom line is that it's really a personal preference and don't let anybody tell you that a gumbo roux has to be nearly black. That's just simply not true. While some chefs may do that, I don't know anybody who does that in a home kitchen.

For one, it weakens the thickening power of your roux substantially and makes for a very thin gumbo. For another, it's very robust and very strong flavored. For another, it can take a very long time and is easy to burn if you try to rush it with high heat. If you like that kind of bold (or if you're cooking something like wild duck), by all means, take it super dark. Most folks I know don't want that flavor for a simple chicken or seafood gumbo and take the roux from peanut butter colored to a slightly darker brown. Even though this is a chicken gumbo, while we are here, let me add, if you're gonna put crab in your seafood gumbo, and you want to call it authentic to the Gulf Coast region, it's blue crab. Not snow crab.

As always with any gumbo, as delicious as it is day one, it's even better the next day, plus it's easy to skim off any fat you want to get rid of and it thickens up too, so make it ahead whenever you can.

If you find your gumbo to be lighter and thinner than you like, two of your best kitchen friends are Kitchen Bouquet and Wondra flour. Hey it happens to the best of us!

Kitchen Bouquet, is a browning and seasoning sauce and a pantry staple in this part of the Deep South where I'm from. Usually found in the condiments aisle, or near the dried herbs and seasonings, it is made with herbs, spices and pureed vegetables. When used in stews, sauces and gravies, it adds depth of flavor and richer color to a gumbo that ended up a bit pale.

Wondra is a form of instant flour that dissolves more smoothly and quickly than regularly flour and can thicken up a too watery gumbo. You can sprinkle it right in the simmering gumbo though I prefer to strain out the solids from the gumbo, use a cup of that with a few tablespoons of Wondra and then stir that into the liquid, boil a minute and then readd the solids.

For more of my favorite gumbo recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

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Recipe: Cajun Style Chicken Gumbo

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (3 to 4 pound) whole hen or fryer, cut into serving pieces and skin removed, if desired
  • 12 cups water, heated
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, sliced in 1/4" rounds
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning, or to taste

Heat oil to medium high in a tall, heavy bottomed stockpot and slowly sprinkle in flour, a little at a time until fully incorporated. Cook, stirring constantly until roux is medium to dark in color. Begin adding the warmed water to the roux about a cup at a time, until well incorporated and all water is used. Add the chicken, sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce to a low simmer and cook until meat is tender, about 1-1/2 hours. occasionally skimming off any foam and/or excess oil. Remove bones and skin, add green onion and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Taste, add Cajun seasoning and adjust other seasonings as needed; serve over hot rice.

Cook's Notes: Be mindful of bones! Gumbo is a dish that only improves with advance preparation, so make it ahead of time if possible. The flavors really need time to settle and mellow. It's always thicker and better tasting the next day. Prepare, let cool and skim any accumulated oil off the top before storing. The darker the roux, the less thickening it is. Adjust roux to liquid ratios to your own taste.

Andouille sausage is a highly seasoned, smoked sausage that is blended with Cajun spices, adding a spicy kick and great flavor to these dishes. If you substitute kielbasa or other smoked sausages in recipes where it calls for Andouille, it will affect the outcome of your dish and you’ll need to make adjustments in the seasonings you use.

Tip: If you find your gumbo to be lighter and thinner than you like, two of your best kitchen friends are Kitchen Bouquet and Wondra flour.


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  1. I have tried alot of Cajun dishes but I haven't tried odd is that? Since the weather is quite cool now I have to try this!

  2. I like my gumbo good and spicy!

  3. Let me tell you how glad I am to find your blog. I just saw all the shrimp recipes and I was like wowzah! I'm in luck. I was looking for a recipe that I can use for my shrimp to bring to Thanksgiving dinner at a friends. Now I've found one. Thanks!

  4. I'd make this with smoked sausage Mary , I 'm a scardy cat when it comes to to much heat!! LOL!!!

    1. If you get a chance, try Down Home sausage. Full of flavor that would satisfy a southerner but without the heat to satisfy a northerner. :)

  5. We have a snowy weekend in the forecast...time to make some "warm you up" soups. Your gumbo recipe should do the trick!

  6. Could you add Rotisserie chicken, or for the full flavor do u need to use raw chicken with the skin. Thank You

  7. Sure! You're gonna lose some of the flavor from the chicken, fat and bones stewing in the gumbo but you could enhance that by using some commercial chicken broth, or a combination of chicken broth and water, plus adding in a good chicken base, like Better Than Bouillon, and/or pulling the chicken apart and throwing it all in there, bones and all. That's what I would do. If you just want to add the pulled chicken in, let the sausage & veggies cook for a bit, and wait to add it near the end of the cooking time. Let me know how it turns out if you have time!

  8. Hi! I am from Louisiana, and I came across your site on accident. Best accident I've ever made! THIS IS WHAT GUMBO IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE! I love this recipe, especially because it's authentic! Most gumbo recipes you find online end up looking like a stew, which is such a pet peeve of mine. Gumbo is a "southern soup" if you will, which means there should be juice, just like if you were eating soup. I applaud you for this great version of "Real Southern Gumbo"! Love your site and i've already ear-marked several recipes that i'm adding to my cooking rotation!

  9. Happy to meet you & thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I hope you enjoy hanging out with us and come back to try a few things.

  10. Got this on the stove as I type! YUM! Mary, thank you for pointing out that this really SHOULD be eaten the next day after preparation. I have made many many gumbos and was always so frustrated that I was doing something wrong. Every recipe tasted awful and I was so disgusted at having wasted so many expensive ingredients (seafood). When forced to eat the leftovers I was always surprised that they had gotten better. I just thought it was a stroke of luck that it improved. Now I know that's the way it should be done and I have renewed faith in my cooking and in my recipes. Thanks for your great recipes and most of all, your tips and knowledge! I cant wait for supper TOMORROW!

  11. Is there anyway you can make this to where it is a little more healthy?

    1. Sure! My website is more about the classic versions of recipes but there are many ways to adapt recipes to reduce sodium, fat & calories. I pretty much leave that up to those websites that are specifically dedicated to cooking light, dietary restrictions, dieting and such. There are just far too many to address! For this you could reduce the oil & flour on the roux, omit the andouille and use more chicken and serve it with brown rice. When you reduce or eliminate fat in recipes, you'll want to experiment with some seasonings to bump up the flavor though to make up for that loss, otherwise you'll have very bland foods - such as in this case, gumbo with the reduction in fats and also the elimination of spices from the andouille sausage. Hope that helps!

  12. I was so scared to make gumbo because I thought I would burn the roux. I took a chance I tried this and it came out great as usual with your recipes. Only thing I added was some Cajun seasoning and I used Zummos smoked sausage.

    1. Don't worry - we ALL were that first time!! I'm so glad you did it though!!

  13. I was so scared to make gumbo because I thought I would burn the roux. I took a chance I tried this and it came out great as usual with your recipes. Only thing I added was some Cajun seasoning and I used Zummos smoked sausage.

  14. I'm going to be doing the cooking for my War of 1812 US militia group, and I want to be serving up Gumbo. I don't normally use any other meat then pig, but figured on using chicken this time, for a change. I'm not going to have the means to cut up whole chicken on the site, so figure I could just get pre cut chicken pieces...wings or summat?

    1. You can certainly use wings, just get lots of them! There just isn't much meat on them. Personally, I would purchase two large whole cut up chicken packs and double this recipe. Don't forget the sausage! If you're uncertain whether your crowd will like spicy, don't use the andouille. It can be rather hot! Instead use a milder but good brand of your favorite smoked sausage. Hope y'all enjoy the gumbo!

    2. how do you cook the chicken? separately or only in the gumbo itself?

    3. Can't get andouille round these parts (small city in England) so I'm going to be looking at the polish shops for something that will serve. And yes, can't make it spicy, which is a shame!

    4. I'm not at all savvy on what's available over there, but you can use any kind of ground hot peppers to spice things up - Cajun seasoning is simply a blend of salt, red & black pepper and garlic powder for the most part. Just remember only use a tiny bit the first time - it's real easy to get heavy-handed and there's just no way to tone it down after. Stay on the mild side!

  15. i came across deep dish south by looking for food i'm use to cooking and eating, now i am hooked. i tell everyone that will listen to go there. thanks for keeping it real.

    1. Hi Diane, and welcome to Deep South Dish! I'm so glad that you found your way here & hope you find some goodies to try!! Thank you also for referring your friends & family - I really appreciate that!!

  16. Unusual, I've never seen someone throw the liquids onto the roux. I usually throw the holy trinity(onions, bell pepper and celery) onto my dark chocolate color roux. The vegetables stop the roux from burning. I then cook this mixture for another ten minutes or until my vegetables become translucent before adding the liquid stock.

    1. I actually do that usually myself, roux, then veggies, then liquid, however this preparation is more of a classic "Cajun" method based on a recipe from cookbook author Mrs. Lucy Zaunbrecher of Cajun country. You must have skipped over the chatter before the recipe where I do explain that. Fortunately that is the beauty of having a blog versus a food show or corporate website or recipe mill. We get to explain things and chat about the recipe before the actual recipe. The method you and I use is more traditional where I'm from, but either method will work though!

  17. Hey Mary! I love all your recipes and this one in particular! I'm in the Navy and want to make this for some of my brothers who've never had Gumbo. About 20 to be exact. What would you recommend for quantities to cook this same recipe in a large 60 quart pot? Thanks again you're awesome!

    1. Hi! I have been meaning to write a big batch recipe but haven't gotten around to it because it would take some experimenting. I typically write my recipes for a family of four to six. I'm just not sure how it would work out trying to increase this recipe to serve twenty versus say three different single batches. Sure wish my mama was still with us - she cooked large batches at a restaurant before! I think you could safely triple this recipe, but I just haven't done it so can't say for sure how it would be affected. Now, if you're wanting to fill that pot, that's a whole 'nother thing! A pot that size can probably manage about 10 gallons or more I think. I would think tripling this would be good, but it depends on how you're serving it - such as a soup entree versus a main dish too.

  18. I just found a jar of dark roue on half price sale, having never seen roux in a local store before. Came home ready to try making this again. 1st two attempts the roux tasted nasty like scorched flour (so I gave up). Going to taste the store bought, check out what it's supposed to taste like, and ....

    so about how much ready made dark roux should I use??

    1. Generally speaking, match up your roux to what the recipe calls for in flour, so in this case you'll want to start with a cup of the prepared roux. Warm it up, add the warm water, chicken & veggies and proceed. By the way, essentially a roux is pretty much just cooked flour, so it's not that tasty on it's own. It's just a base to build on. Think of gravy. Gravy is just a fat and flour, until you add the meat drippings or stock. That's what transforms it!


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