I am from Southeast Texas. It is about 30 minutes from Louisiana. Therefore, I consider myself on fleek when it comes to Cajun food (notice I didn’t say eyebrows), especially gumbo.
I grew up with every mom knowing how to make gumbo. They were all basically the same.
You boil a chicken
Make your roux
put in your onions, parsley, etc and cook for awhile
Add the chicken and sausage later then simmer some more
Don’t get me wrong… this is probably still my favorite way. It is delicious and it just reminds me of home.
However, I have recently been on a cookbook kick. I swear I have ordered like 25 just this year. That may actually be down scaling it quite a bit honestly. I heard of John Besh, a Louisiana Chef, so I wanted to try his cookbook. I ordered his Louisiana Restaurant one but surprisingly it did not have gumbo in it. Really? That is just weird. Thankfully, his home cookbook did. It had an entire different technique as well.
Yesterday, when I was making my meals for the week, I started boiling a chicken and decided I was going to try John Besh’s recipe. Well, after I already started boiling the chicken I realized that his technique was totally different. He browns the chicken and sausage in the roux before even adding any chicken stock!!!! Weird!!!! Has anyone else ever heard of this technique? Thankfully, I had taken out some chicken thighs as well so I threw those in the roux and browned them. I was scared the entire time the roux was going to burn since I hadn’t added any liquid yet. All went well though.
After browning the chicken thighs I added the sausage and browned that as well then added the chicken broth from the chicken I was boiling along with some store bought broth. Yes I know that isn’t the proper way to do things but like I said before, I had intended on boiling the chicken for my gumbo.
Surprisingly, this was the easiest way I have ever made it before. It didn’t make as much as usual but I didn’t have as much chicken as usual and I didn’t want it t be all broth. So, it was just extra thick. I am on the fence as to which way I like it….. it basically tastes the same but a different texture because of the thickness. I made a batch of rice and packed them all up for our lunches this week. Here is his recipe.
Now I actually do not have the recipe in front of me so I am going to type it as close as I remember. It is more about the steps than the measurements so here I go:
Heat one cup of oil in a nice dutch oven. I personally like Magnalite.
Let it get hot but not too hot
Add one cup of flour and stir consistently not letting it burn
It will thicken up and turn dark brown. you want it on the verge of burning
Add one onion and let it caramelize
Add one bellpepper and brown it also
Add your chicken pieces. I used thighs and brown, cooking until it is done.
Add your sausage and do the same
Add your salt, pepper, cayenne, and some file to your taste. Let it all simmer
Add chicken broth to the thickness you want. It will thicken up a little since you still have to simmer but not too much. you can always add more is my theory.
Let it simmer for about 45 or more minutes.
Adjust spices again
This method is easier than what I was raised doing. I also like the option that I can use only thighs!!! I have never been a boob fan.
The picture enclosed is a picture of just the roux, chicken and sausage before adding the liquid. I would guesstimate I probably added about 6 cups of chicken broth. It was not quite half way full but not at a quarter either. I really did enjoy it. I felt guilty for not staying with the tradition but everything needs to evolve a little right?
I just won’t ever tell the family. In the meantime this method is easier for sure!