Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo
American, Southern

Really Good Gumbo

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The reason the word “gumbo” has a G, an M, and an O in it is because OMG, it’s good! Today, October 12th, is National Gumbo Day and we’re going to travel in my kitchen to Louisiana where I’m going to show you how to make a really good Gumbo Filé with Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp.

Now, there are a lot of gumbos out there and that’s really what’s so special about it. You can twist it and tweak it and make it your own. There are a few things that make gumbo, “Gumbo,” though. So, you’ll want to take note.

There’s Something About Gumbo

The main thing about gumbo is the roux. Roux is what makes gumbo be gumbo, alright? You can throw chicken, turkey, shrimp, ham, crab legs, crawfish, oysters, and/or sausage in a pot with some veggies, stock, and spices and call it stew, but it won’t be gumbo without the roux.

Another thing about gumbo is it’s made with the Holy Trinity of Cajun cuisine – onions, celery, and bell peppers, plus the Pope – garlic. Lastly, it’s commonly served with a side of rice. Though, back in the day, it was often served with a side of corn meal mush.

What Is Roux?

The first time I ever made roux was in the Army. We all thought making it was torture, because well, pretty much everything having to do with military training, whether it be cooking at 3 a.m. or crawling under razor wire, has a tendency to be tortuous. Now, that I’m older and very much wiser, I know making roux is not tortuous, at all. It’s meditative and it’s worth it.

Roux (pronounced “roo” or “rū”) is flour and oil or fat cooked together to make a thickener for sauces, stews, and gravies. I call it fried flour, but “roux” sounds much more appetizing. Unless, you say “farine frit” which means “fried flour” and is a very old term for roux. Then it sounds good. French words for food always sound good. Actually, French words sound good in general, don’t they?

To make a roux, you combine equal parts of flour and fat by weight, and cook it over low to medium heat, stirring constantly, until it gets to the level of brownness desired. For this gumbo recipe you’ll want it as brown as you can get it. Chocolate brown. That means you need to stir it for about 35 – 45 minutes. So, grab a drink and your phone and park yourself in front of the stove, relax, and… stir. Just don’t get all into watching “The Great British Baking Show” on PBS or Netflix and burn your roux. If you burn it, you have to start over. Probably better to just watch the roux, instead of British bakers. Wax on, wax off. Woosah… there you got it.

BTW, you can use any fat you like to make roux, but if you use butter, you will not be able to get your roux to turn the dark brown color.

Gumbo Filé

The great thing about gumbo is it’s so American. It’s a melting pot. Gumbo embodies the culture and foods from the people from west Africa to Native Americans to the French. Everybody’s in there. Well, not everybody. But, maybe we could invent an Everybody Gumbo that has a lot more stuff in it. Like, say… Shrimp Taco Gumbo with Curry Powder and Red Wine Sauce? Hey! They say fusion cooking is the new thing. But, obviously, it’s not that new. Gumbo proves that.

Ok. Let’s quit the brainstorming and get back to reality. Maybe, a Master Chef could make my idea work. I don’t know. There are some limitations when it comes to food.

Anyway, gumbo filé powder is made of ground sassafras tree leaves and is, at least one, of the Native American contributions to this type of gumbo. On its own, it smells like eucalyptus and sugar and tastes like rootbeer. It acts as a thickener and when added to a savory sauce it tastes like thyme. But, you ask, doesn’t roux thicken the sauce? Why, yes, it does, but the darker the roux, the thinner the sauce. So, it needs a little help. Other types of gumbo use okra as a thickener. We’re sticking with the sassafras leaves because, honestly, I’m not really that into okra.

Just FYI – There was no gumbo filé powder to be found in the stores near me. They blamed the lack of it on COVID. I ordered a big, ol’ jar of it from Amazon and now have enough to last me 20 years.

Mise en Place

Here we go with the French words again. “Mise en place” (pronounced MEEZ ahn plahs) is a French phrase meaning “everything in place.” Having your pots, pans and utensils ready, vegetables peeled and cut, spices, grease and flour measured, chicken and sausage cooked and stock prepared is very important before you get ready to assemble this dish.

This can be done in stages. For instance, I stewed and cut up my chicken and made the chicken stock a day ahead of time. Of course, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken and commercially-prepared chicken broth, if you like. Nobody will give you demerits. Unless you’re in a cooking competition or something. You just need some cooked chicken. How you get it is up to you.

Life will be much easier if you have everything ready before you make the roux, though. Especially, the vegetables, because you’re going to throw these in to cook in the roux as soon as it’s done. So, please, read through the entire recipe and do what you can ahead of time. Then building your gumbo will be a breeze.

About the Shrimp

I use pre-cooked, frozen shrimp in this recipe. You use what you like and have access to. If using pre-cooked frozen shrimp, thaw it in a bowl of cool water and add it to the gumbo when it’s done, or nearly done, cooking. This will heat up the shrimp and keep it from turning to mush.

How to Serve Gumbo Filé with Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp

Serve your gumbo piping hot ladled over a helping of white rice with a side of hush puppies or corn bread.

And… Bon appétit!

Looking for more southern comfort food? Try my Hamburger Gravy – SOS – Army Style recipe!

Really Good Gumbo

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Kimberly Scott Course: MainCuisine: SouthernDifficulty: Moderate
Servings

10

servings
Prep time

1

hour 
Cooking time

1

hour 

Sometimes, a really good gumbo is all you need to make the world feel right. This Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo Filé with its thick, dark sauce, spicy sausage, and juicy shrimp delivers some serious southern comfort on even the rainiest days.

Ingredients

  • Proteins
  • 1 pound roasted, fried, or stewed chicken meat

  • 1 pound Andouille sausage

  • 1 pound frozen, cooked shrimp

  • Vegetables
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small

  • 1 green pepper, diced small

  • 1 red pepper, diced small

  • 1 cup celery, diced small

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced thin, throw half in the pot and use half for garnish

  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

  • Liquids
  • 5 – 6 cups chicken stock

  • Seasonings
  • 1 Tablespoon Gumbo Filé Powder

  • 1 – 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried

  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon basil, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste

  • For the Roux
  • 1 cup flour (4.25 ounces)

  • 2/3 cup lard or shortening (about 4.8 ounces)

Directions

  • Cut Andouille sausage into 1/2 inch medallions and brown both sides in a frying pan.
  • Cut or tear up chicken into about 1 inch cubes or bite-sized pieces.
  • Dice all vegetables and mince garlic. Throw them all into a large bowl.
  • Measure spices and mix in a small bowl.
  • Making the Roux
  • In a heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, melt lard or shortening over low to low/medium heat. Add flour and stir immediately, ensuring there are no lumps thus creating a roux. Then keep stirring the roux constantly for about 35 to 45 minutes, do not stop, until it has turned a dark, chocolatey brown. It’s important to keep a close eye on your roux, continuing to stir and adjusting the heat as necessary. If it burns, you must start over.
  • Assembling the Gumbo
  • If using frozen shrimp, place them in a bowl of cold water to thaw.
  • Once the roux has reached the desired color, dump the vegetables and garlic into the roux and cook them until just tender.
  • Add chicken stock to pot and stir to ensure everything is incorporated.
  • Add chicken, sausage, and spices, (excluding gumbo filé) to pot. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • When shrimp have thawed add them to the pot. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the shrimp are hot.
  • Remove from fire and stir in gumbo filé.
  • Serve gumbo with rice and garnish with green onions and sprinkle with a little paprika for color, if desired.

Notes

  • Obviously, feel free to adjust seasoning amounts to your taste and add any others you like. Common ones include onion, celery, and garlic powders. If you have any Cajun or Creole seasoning, you can replace all the seasonings, except the cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and filé with that. Just season to taste.
  • Gumbo tastes even better the next day and will last up to three days in the refrigerator or six months in the freezer. It’s a good idea to freeze it in individual servings with rice.

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