Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shortcut Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

With Mardi Gras just around the corner, and a cold weekend in the forecast, I was hit with a MASSIVE craving for gumbo. But, not wanting to simmer it for hours on end, I decided to see if I could "shortcut" my gumbo a bit, without losing any of the flavors that make gumbo so incredibly amazing. 

Gumbo (not to be confused with Gumbercules) is a Louisiana specialty; in fact, it's the official cuisine of the state. Gumbo consists of a strong stock, thickened with roux, filé powder (ground sassafras leaves) or okra, the trinity of Cajun/Creole vegetables (bell peppers, celery and onions), and a meat, served over rice. 

How is gumbo different from jambalaya? Basically, gumbo is a soup, served over rice, where jambalaya is a rice dish. Gumbo contains a thickener, jambalaya does not. Both are GREAT dishes, though!

Creole gumbo typically contains a shellfish, along with tomatoes and a filé roux. Cajun gumbo usually contains fowl and sausage, and a really dark roux,which provides a thinner sauce with more intense flavor. My version is a hybrid of both the Creole and Cajun styles - though I LOVE shrimp in my gumbo, I used chicken and andouille sausage instead, as the BF is, as most of you know, allergic to shellfish.

Not wanting to cut corners on flavor, but needing to trim some of the cooking time, I used a deli rotisserie chicken instead of browning the chicken myself. In standard chicken gumbo, the a whole chicken is poached to make the broth; by simply using storebought broth and a rotisserie chicken, I saved myself a stockpot and  at least an hour of time. Using frozen vegetables, flash-frozen at the height of their freshness, I managed to save some money as well as some prep time as well. 

Now, don't expect to have gumbo in the table in 30 minutes; this recipe STILL takes about 2 hours of cooking. Luckily, most of that time is spent "hands-off" and allowing the gumbo to simmer and develop its rich flavors. 

Shortcut Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

1 rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bacon fat or melted butter (or half of each)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 10oz package frozen chopped onions
1 10oz package frozen chopped green bell peppers
1 10oz package frozen sliced okra
2 quarts chicken broth
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp filé powder
Long-grain white rice, cooked

Remove the skin & bones from the rotisserie chicken and shred the meat with your fingers or 2 forks. Set aside. Save the carcass in the freezer for future stock-making!

Whisk the flour and bacon fat/butter in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat to create a roux. Cook, stirring constantly, for 15-20 minutes or until the roux is a deep chocolate brown color.

Stir in the garlic, onions, bell peppers, celery, Cajun seasoning and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and sausage. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the stew has thickened.

Add in the chicken and frozen okra and return to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the okra is tender.

Remove from heat, add the filé powder, and stir until dissolved. Serve with cooked white rice and crusty French bread. Garnish with chopped scallions.


  1. the file' is meant to be added to each individual bowl after serving, not stirred into the finished product. it tends to get stringy and the flavor vanishes if you stir it up in the full pot, especially if you have enough for leftovers. also, i know lots of people put tomatoes in gumbo but it is very unnecessary. i've never heard anyone from or around South LA recommend gumbo be made that way. -gumbo loving girl from St. Amant, LA

  2. Looks good to me! I don't like tomatoes and I like them occassionally in my gumbo, try it!

  3. I want some now! I've never actually made gumbo from scratch but I've eaten it a few times. Yours looks delicious.