Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gumbo Ya Ya...aka Chicken and Sausage Gumbo!!

A strange thing happens about this time every fall...the first big cool snap comes to Texas, and my internal gumbo meter goes off! That means that the long, hot summer is in my rear-view mirror, and it's officially time to make my inaugural pot of gumbo for the season!! The weatherman predicted temps in the upper 30s this morning, so I was ready to cook some gumbo for dinner last night!!

My family isn't from Louisiana, and I didn't grow up eating gumbo. But, my husband's family is from a town on the Texas-Louisiana border, so they all love gumbo. His mother makes a mean pot of gumbo, so I learned to love it while we were dating. For the longest time, I was afraid to cook gumbo for one reason: I was intimidated by the idea of making roux! Two measly ingredients, flour and oil cooked until it's a dark-brown, filled me with trepidation. Then I found out a secret! 

There are several companies in Louisiana that make roux that comes in a jar. So...that's what I do. It saves me time, and the end result is perfect pot of gumbo every time. The brand that I use is Kary's Roux. I buy it at Super Walmart here in Texas, but Cajun Food Mart sells it over the internet.

I usually make seafood gumbo with andouille (spicy Cajun sausage), shrimp, crawfish, and crab. But this time we were hungry for Gumbo Ya Ya, which has andouille and chicken. I bought all the ingredients after work, came home, and got cooking. Two hours later, we had enough gumbo for last night's dinner...and plenty of leftovers for tonight! A quick word about okra...there are two schools of thought about it: either you love it in your gumbo, or you don't! I fall firmly in the NO OKRA camp! I don't like the flavor or the texture. Oh, and I never, ever put tomatoes in my gumbo either. There are a gazillion ways to make gumbo, so feel free to add tomatoes or okra if you want. My recipe is pretty flexible...a very basic pot of gumbo.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo aka Gumbo Ya Ya

Step 1:  Add a bit of vegetable oil to a 5-quart Dutch oven or large soup pot and turn heat to med-high. Add 1 medium diced onion, 3 stalks sliced celery, and 1 diced medium bell pepper. Sprinkle liberally with Cajun seasoning of your choice - I used Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Magic last night. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the veggies start to wilt.

Step 2:  Add 5-6 shakes of Tabasco to the veggies...add more or less, depending on how spicy you want your gumbo. Slice two links of andouille sausage in half, then cut each piece into half-moons. If you can't find andouille, any good-quality smoked sausage will work. Add the sausage to the veggies and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Step 3:  Add 8 cups chicken stock to the pot and stir well to get all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Now it's time to add the roux. Open the jar and pour out the oil that's on top to prevent an oily gumbo. The roux is a bit like clay, so use a sturdy spoon to scoop it. If you want a thinner gumbo, add about 1/3 of the jar. We like a hearty gumbo, so I add about half the jar. Add the roux and stir continuously for 10-15 minutes to dissolve the roux. The color will darken a bit, and the gumbo will begin to thicken.

After you've incorporated the roux into the gumbo, add 2-4 bay leaves and 1 tbs. dried minced garlic to the pot.

Step 4: Add 3 bone-in chicken breasts, removing any skin. The package of chicken I bought was 2.5 lbs. You can use half breasts and half thighs if you want, but we prefer all white meat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1.5 hours.

Step 5:  After the gumbo has simmered for 1.5 hours, remove the chicken breasts and set aside on a cutting board to cool for a few minutes. Put a pot of white rice on to cook. While the rice cooks, remove the chicken from the bones and cut into cubes. 

Step 6:  Chop 3-4 green onions. Add half of the green onions and the cubed chicken back into the gumbo and give it a stir. You can see how much darker the gumbo has become while it simmered.

When the rice is finished cooking, scoop some into a bowl. Top with two ladles of gumbo, and sprinkle with a bit more chopped green onion...or chopped parsley.

This is truly one of our favorite comfort food meals. I like to use a lot of roux in my gumbo, so it's very substantial and hardy. I serve it with garlic bread. There are few meals that I love more than a bowl of gumbo on a cool fall night. The best part? It tastes even better the next day after it rests in the fridge!!

Before I leave, I want to take a few moments to answer a few Tag, Your're It questions that my friend Kim at Liv Life asked me in her blog earlier this week. Be sure to check out her blog...she always has fantastic recipes and photographs!!

1.  What is your favorite restaurant? many! I've been lucky enough to eat at some of the best restaurants in the country the past couple of years. I'll name three that stand out: (1) Gary Danko, San Francisco...excellent food, attentive service, and a great price for the quality of the food. (2) ad hoc, Napa Valley...Thomas Keller's casual eatery. You sit down and they tell you the menu for the night. Yep, everyone eats the same four-course menu. (3) Frontera Grill, Chicago. Had a wonderful Mexican meal there in good that I forgive Rick Bayless for the 2-hour wait for a table. Oh! One more runner up: BLT Prime in popovers EVER!!

2.  When dining out do you prefer a fancy, dress up affair or casual with flip flops?
Depends on my mood. Sometimes I like to get dressed up and have a fancy multi-course gourmet meal. Other times I just want to wear jeans and have a good 'ol burger or BBQ! I'm a food lover, but I'm not a food least not most of the time!

3.  Do you do fast food?  If so, what is your favorite? favorites are Chick-fil-a and Whataburger. Whataburger is Texas-only and so good for burgers and fries. My uncle lives in the Bay Area, and it's the FIRST place he hits whenever he visits Texas!

4.  Do you remember one of the first recipes that you ever made?  If so, do you still make it?
I remember making no-bake cookies with orange juice and vanilla wafer crumbs at my Grandma Texene's house when I was in grade school. They tasted good, but don't recall making them again after that one time. And grandmother wasn't born in Texas. Everyone asks me that. 

5.  The world is open to you.  A personal private jet with pilot is waiting for your direction...  Where will you go? 
Since I went to Paris the last set of questions I answered, I'll go with Rome and Tuscany this time. I'd love to see The Vatican and eat some amazing Italian food!!!

6.  How close do you now live to where you were born?
I grew up in the Houston area and now live in San Antonio, about 4 hours away. We're close enough to drive home for a weekend visit whenever the mood strikes us to see the family!

7.  Wine... red, white or bubbly?
Ummm....all of the above?!?!? I love all wine, but I do have a soft spot for the bubbles. I LOVE Petalo Sparkling Moscato, but my favorite for special occasions is Krug Grande Cuvee or Veuve Clicquot.

8.  Why did you start blogging? 
I have a journalism degree and have always loved writing. So, it seemed like a good match to write about cooking and food. My husband actually encouraged me to start this blog as a way to encourage myself to cook from all the cookbooks in my huge collection!


  1. Your gumbo looks AMAZING! I love New Orleans and used to go there all the time...just for the food! You just reminded me that I want to make this jambalaya I saw Ina Garten make awhile ago. I'm with you in liking that type of food once the weather starts to get cooler. (even though it was the most perfect day on earth here today!)


  2. Great comfort, flavorful food! Love learning more about you.

  3. @Veronica - NOLA is a very special place for me too! When I lived in Houston, we went for a long weekend several times. Michael proposed to me in the courtyard of the Ritz-Carlton on Canal St., and we spent our wedding night there as well!'s holds a very special place in my heart!! Brunch at Commander's Palace is another one of my fave culinary memories!!

  4. That gumbo makes me hungry! I'm in the add okra and tomato camp and actually have some okra to use up... Thanks!! kate @ kateiscooking

  5. @Kate: With tomatoes, you've got more of a Creole gumbo, and the roux is usually a bit lighter in color. This is more of a Cajun gumbo since it doesn't have tomatoes and uses the dark-brown roux. Maybe Louanne can chime in, but I think both versions can have okra. Both are delish, though!

  6. Hey Wendy! Just emailed you. Yes, Creole gumbo usually has tomatoes along with seafood. Okra can be added to either. I'm pro-okra, but the husband is not, so I make my chicken-sausage gumbo sans okra. I just add a little file' on my bowl. Your gumbo looks outstanding, Wendy, and now I want gumbo!

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  8. Let me try that again...
    Not sure if you can tell form the pics, but this makes a LOT of gumbo! It's just two of us here, along with we basically ate gumbo all weekend. Dinner Friday, then we added a pound of shrimp on Saturday and had it for dinner. We ate the end of it for lunch on Sunday. Good thing we really like gumbo ;)!

  9. I haven't had much gumbo before, but yours looks wonderful!

  10. Love those answers! So fun learning more about our favorite bloggers. And you had me at gumbo!

  11. wow..your gumbo looks just divine.. can i come over? i am just so hungry looking at your pictures!!

  12. !! That gumbo looks divine! It has been forever since I've had gumbo...I have a chicken that I'm roasting this weekend and maybe I'll use the leftover for this! :)

  13. Given the positive feedback, I might just have to do a giveaway for a jar of this roux! I'm not sure if it's available outside the Gulf Coast...

  14. oh how i wish andoullie was readily available here!!! And I am in the yucky okra club!!! This gumbo looks fantastic!

  15. Thanks for sharing your Gumbo recipe. My husband will LOVE this. Especially without the tomatoes. :) Have a great night.

  16. Making this tonight for my Dad's bday dinner. Thanks! For the recipe.


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