Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Gumbo is, in a way, the soul food of New Orleans. You start the gumbo by cooking the Trinity: Celery, onion and green bell pepper. This “holy trinity” goes in almost every classic dish and lends flavor and texture. You use whatever protein you have available whether it be beans, chicken, sausage or seafood. If you have leftover tomatoes in the fridge, those go in too!
When the gumbo is nearly finished, you add in your garlic, because garlic is the Pope and everyone was commanded to be French Catholic. Then, right before serving, you stir in your parsley and green onion, because that is the blessing. And then you sit and slurp and you leave the gumbo in the fridge for a day or two because it just gets better. You might make a pot of jambalaya later in the week and pour some gumbo over it. Anything goes! And let’s just settle the misconception right now that New Orleans food is spicy. It is packed with flavor but doesn’t need to be overly hot unless the cook likes it that way.
Gumbo, In its simplest form it, is a dark soup usually made with chicken and sausage or some type of seafood. It gets its dark coloring from the roux which you cook from a blond color until it is the color of dark chocolate. This lends an intense, nutty flavor that makes gumbo like no other soup, however by cooking the roux to this point, you lose a lot of its thickening ability.
To compensate for this, people often use okra in their gumbo because if you cook okra down long enough, it let’s go and lends it’s starchy fibers to thickening your gumbo. Or you might sprinkle some file (Fee-lay) powder in your bowl right before you eat it, this will also thicken your gumbo without changing the flavor. But what people don’t know is that gumbo doesn’t have to be extremely thick, you can eat it just like you would any other broth-based soup, serve it with rice if you like or eat it like it is.
One very important thing to note is you need a good spice blend for gumbo. You can make your own, or use Joe’s Stuff, the brand I recommend which is available online here. But do be cautious of random blends on the grocery store shelf, they are primarily salt-based and don’t actually add much more than that to your gumbo. So now that you know how to REALLY make a gumbo, give it a whirl! And remember, in New Orleans you “Just keep adding shit till it tastes right.”