- The Magazine
Something about the beginning of fall makes me think about crisp nights in one of my favorite cities, New Orleans. And if you’re in The Big Easy, you have to eat gumbo. Now, we could argue about whether this is Creole or Cajun, but that seems misguided. It’s delicious. Just be sure to prep everything before you start and don’t get lazy with the roux! Expect to be stirring off and on for a good 30 minutes or more. Finally, filé powder, from the dried and crushed leaves of the sassafras tree, is available in most supermarkets (or on Amazon) and is essential to seasoning and thickening authentic gumbo.
1. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium-high heat. When hot, season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Sauté, turning once, until lightly browned (8-10 minutes). Remove to a plate.
2. Being careful not to let the fats in the pot burn, slice the Andouille sausage into 1/2 inch pieces and the pancetta and the ham into 1/4 inch dice.
3. Add all of the sliced pork to the hot fat in the pan and cook until lightly browned (and the pancetta is crispy). Remove everything with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reduce the heat on your pot to medium-low.
4. If you haven’t chopped all of your veggies, get it done now! Use this time to also remove the skin and bones from the cooled chicken (save it for stock) and chop the meat into large shreds. Again, be careful not to let the fats in the pot burn.
5. When you are ready, add the butter to the fat in the pot and let it melt.
6. Then, add the flour to the pot and whisk constantly for 30 or more minutes. This is your roux. Every once in a while, stop stirring to let the roux brown, but don’t let it burn.
7. The roux will be ready when it is dark, shiny, and chocolate brown in color.
8. Add in the peppers, celery, garlic, and onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
9. Stir in the green chilis, thyme, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Simmer everything gently for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
10. Add the tomatoes, crushing gently with your hands.
11. Stir everything to combine and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Add the filé powder and stir to combine.
12. Add your chicken stock and stir to combine. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
13. Add the cooked chicken, sausage, pancetta, and ham, as well as the okra. Stir everything together and bring to a boil over high heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the chicken is fully cooked and the okra is tender, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
14. When the gumbo has thickened and about 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the prepared shrimp and cook gently over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
15. Serve the gumbo with white rice on the side, chives, hot sauce, and more filé powder for sprinkling at the table.
Questions? Text to Craig at 202-217-0996 or email Savor@metroweekly.com.
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