Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chicken, Andouille, and Oyster Filé Gumbo

An oyster filé gumbo, made with the Trinity, oysters, a chicken and spicy andouille sausage.

Chicken, Andouille, and Oyster Filé Gumbo

My father-in-law has been buying full sacks of Gulf oysters the past few weeks and we have been the lucky recipients of several pints, stuffed with delicious, salty, freshly shucked oysters and plenty of liquor. Dad also makes this wonderful oyster gumbo and he usually sends a quart of that over too. I know. My in-laws are wonderful people, I love them to death, and yes. I am spoiled rotten.

Dad's gumbo is more of a filé gumbo because he doesn't use okra in his gumbo, though I've seen some recipes that do. His oyster gumbo is also made with a pale roux, always spicy andouille sausage, plenty of cayenne and no tomatoes.

Gumbo Filé (pronounced fee-lay) is used to both season and thicken gumbo, particularly when okra is not used. It is ground from dried leaves of a sassafras tree and is offered as a condiment at the table, or added only at the end of the cooking process, but should never be boiled. The flavor is somewhere around the taste of a cross between savory and thyme.

To me a gumbo with oysters really calls out for andouille, but if you don't want the fire you can certainly substitute a good basic, smoked sausage, or even some nice smoked ham. You will definitely lose that highly sought after seasoning from the andouille that really just fits right in with oyster gumbo, so I'd suggest bumping up some of the other seasonings. Remember though, that it's real easy to go overboard with the Cajun seasoning or cayenne, so always add a little, taste and adjust. You can always add more, but you just can't take it away.

As always, gumbo is a dish that only improves with advance preparation, so make it ahead of time whenever possible. The flavors really need time to settle and mellow and it's always better the next day. Prepare, let cool and skim any accumulated oil off the top before storing.

You might be surprised to know that some form of seafood gumbo, and very often oyster, graces the Christmas table for many of us down here in the Deep South. Here's how to make this one.

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Posted by on December 12, 2012
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