Be prepared for some serious bragging!
A few days ago it was cold, rainy, and nasty outside, and Lance mentioned that he needed to call his mom down in Louisiana and have her walk him through how to make gumbo - he's never made it on his own.
While I was making my menu and shopping list, I decided to be a good wifey and surprise him with my attempt at gumbo (haha...). Lance can be very picky about food, and every single recipe I kept finding had stuff like stewed tomatoes or okra in it, which I was pretty sure was not in his mom's gumbo if he loved it so much. I was ready to give up my efforts until I finally came across this recipe, and when a title includes "The REAL Stuff" and with reviews from raving locals, I hoped I found a keeper.
A few nights ago when I was starting to cook, Lance asked "what's for dinner," which was a question I was avoiding and didn't want to answer. I finally broke down and admitted that I was attempting gumbo, and he laughed - saying that me cooking gumbo was like "trying to recreate the Star Wars movies all by yourself." Hardy-har-har.
I was obviously super nervous after that, waiting for him to lovingly goad me on my efforts (he tends to do that). I've only had "real" gumbo once before that I can recall, and a teeny green voice in my head kept saying "Much to learn of gumbo, you still have." Add to the fact that the recipe doesn't have much in terms of measurements and I was guessing a good bit, I was getting frustrated!
I was sweating bullets when it was finally dinner time and it was time to be graded. Lance said it smelled like gumbo while I was cooking, but that didn't stoke my confidence much. I watched him have a few judging bites, and he finally had to reluctantly admit that it tasted pretty much exactly how his mom makes it.
The only thing I was missing was filé powder, which is "a spicy herb made from the dried and ground leaves of the sassafras tree," according to Wiki. Whoops. I had no idea to include that, but I do recall hearing Lance's family talk about it and it going straight over my head because I had no idea what it was. Newb mistake. I added it to the recipe so you won't forget to keep an eye out for it. You might have to check out a few different stores before you find the filé - Lance finally found it yesterday at a random weird grocery store that we hardly ever go to.
The gumbo was so good - its very much a comfort food and it warmed us up that nasty night. The kids raved about it and begged me to pack some for school lunch for the next day, which is always a good sign. In fact, last night the kids came down stairs smelling something good, and got their hopes up thinking I made gumbo again and were ecstatic - but I quickly had to deliver the disappointing news that I made something else.
I suggest that if you aren't familiar with or confident making a roux, watch a few YouTube videos. I know that a good roux makes all the difference in the world (or so I hear...), and I was afraid that I did it wrong since I don't really know much about rouxs, but YouTube saved the day for me yet again :) I also suggest investing in a cast iron dutch oven/pot if you don't have one. Oh, there's my next post inspiration!
I hope that you give this recipe a try, its worth the effort! It does take a bit of time and lovin' in the kitchen, but clearly, it was good enough for me to consider rebooting the Star Wars saga!
Louisiana Chicken and Sausage Gumbo: The REAL Stuff!
1 whole chicken, cut up
sausage, to taste (I used a pack of turkey kielbasa, amazing!)
chicken broth or water (amount varies, I used enough to cover the chicken initially, and let it cook down a bit)
flour (equal portions of flour/butter, about half-cup each)
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 head garlic, diced
2 stalks celery, cut up
salt and black pepper
1. Melt some butter in your heavy bottomed pot.
2. Sprinkle your chicken with a little bit of flour. Brown in the pot - about five minutes. Remove.
3. In the same pot, using equal parts butter and flour, make a roux. Once the roux has reached the dark chocolate-colored stage, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery.
4. Season with salt and pepper and add garlic; sauté until softened, careful not to burn.
5. Add chicken pieces back into the pot. Start adding water/chicken broth slowly, stirring the whole time. For a thinner gravy, add more broth; for thicker gravy, less broth.
6. Season with salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning, and bring just to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Add sausage.
7. Allow to cook long enough for the chicken to begin to fall off the bones, about an hour and a half. Serve over rice, with filé powder at table for self seasoning.