When people find out I’m from south Louisiana the conversation always gravitates toward food. They usually want to know if I cook gumbo. Some even ask if I have a recipe. I say, “No, but it’s easy to learn. ” I’ve even told a few people I’d teach them, but somehow we never seem to get around to it.
So the other day on the phone I told my Mama, “People are always asking me how to cook gumbo so I am going to start a blog just so I can say ‘Oh, it’s easy just go to my blog and the recipe with simple instructions is there.'” She laughed and when I asked her if she can help me put her recipe on paper (or screen) she said, “I can’t, Kay.”
That’s her way of saying she didn’t learn that way so she doesn’t see the need, or that she didn’t feel like it at the time. So I pressed her with questions until she was giving me all of the measurements and steps to a perfect pot of chicken gumbo. She was even saying things like, “…and tell them to do this and not to do that.” By the end of the conversation her voice had perked up and she sounded quite pleased with herself as if she had accomplished a great feat. (Thanks, Mama!) I then made a plan.
I gathered every ingredient and called the kids to see if they wanted to come over for supper that night. They all said yes since this was the first gumbo I was making for the fall season. It turned out to be the best gumbo I think I have ever made. So here it its. I wish you great success.
Chop and set aside in a small bowl:
2 celery stalk
1 large onion
My sister, Virginia, (she’s the baby) says to chop by hand and don’t use a food processor because it tastes different. Mama says it’s true so I chop by hand using eye goggles I got at a kitchen store because I hate crying for no good reason. It really does make a difference. No tears!
Mama gave me a garlic press for Christmas one year and I never chop garlic anymore. It’s super easy.
Next cut up and remove the skin of a 4 pound fryer and season it with:
2 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. granulated garlic power
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Brown the chicken in 2 Tablespoons of canola oil in your Grandma’s gumbo pot. If your grandma didn’t have one just use a large soup pot. Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl.
In a heavy medium sized saucepan make a roux. Don’t worry, it’s not hard. If you mess up you just start over. Measure:
1/2 cup of canola Oil
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
Heat oil at medium heat in the heavy saucepan until hot. Add flour and stir not leaving unattended until the roux is a dark caramel color. You can use a whisk or any long handled spoon of your choosing.
Be patient! It may take about 15 minutes or more to brown the roux depending on the amount of heat from your stove and the thickness of your pot. If you burn it, don’t fret, start over.
The first time my mama made a roux was when she and my dad had just moved into their new home after living with her in-laws their first few years of marriage. (God bless them all!!!)
She was told by her mother-in-law she had to cook a crab stew for dinner for the men working in the fields that day. The noon meal was called dinner and their evening meal supper. After I had married and moved to Mississippi I came home and asked when we were eating lunch and my mamma said she didn’t eat lunch just dinner and supper. I try not to make that mistake again.
After receiving instructions of what to do my grandma left to take care of chores at her house. When she returned to check on my mother’s progress she took one look in the pot and said, “You burned it! Start over!”
A few more tries and she succeeded. I doubt she’s ever failed at the task since and there probably aren’t many good cooks who have never had to throw out a burnt roux or two.
Next add the vegetables to the hot roux. and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are clear.
Now, add your roux to the gumbo pot that you had browned the chicken in. Add 6 cups of cold water and 2 cans of low sodium chicken broth. Stir until blended and bring to a boil then lower heat and cook at a slow boil for 15 minutes with a small crack in the lid. This allows steam to escape and stops the gumbo juice from dripping down the outside of the pot.
It is now time to add the browned chicken. Stir well and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes with lid slightly cracked on pot.
Then add 1 pound of sliced (in 1/2 inch pieces) smoked beef sausage. Originally we used fresh pork sausage, but it is not readily available in Southeast Arkansas so we have adapted very well to the smoked. You may use the smoked pork sausage if you prefer.
Simmer for 15 more minutes, taste and adjust the seasonings.
There you have it…your first classic Cajun chicken gumbo! Enjoy it with rice and a scoop of potato salad. And yes, I eat my potato salad in my gumbo!
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless,” Mother Teresa.