I learned to love many new foods when I went away for school (crawfish, Vitek’s Gut Paks, and eventually enchiladas), but my favorite ever is gumbo. If you’re unfamiliar with the dish, gumbo is a soup/stew from Louisiana, which consists of a thick, dark roux; chicken; sausage; shrimp; and vegetables, and served with white rice. I tried gumbo for the first time in middle school, but didn’t truly enjoy it until my friend Rachel took me back to her home in Louisiana for Spring Break. I had the dish three times in our four days there! My favorite Waco restaurant, Cajun Craft, makes another delicious gumbo, which I think about almost daily (and their fried chicken that I love more than anything in the world and wrote about here). Sadly, one of the worst parts about moving back home aside from separating from my friends is a severe lack of Cajun food and BBQ. Because my dad and I love gumbo so much, we finally decided to attempt our own version based on multiple different recipes. After simmering for almost four hours in a dutch oven, the stew was rich and flavorful with just the right amount of spice. Here’s how we made it:
- 4 cups flour
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 4 celery stalks
- 1 large can whole tomatoes
- 2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 pounds chicken thighs
- 2 boxes unsalted chicken stock
- 10 pieces okra
- 1 whole kielbasa sausage (recipes usually call for andouille)
- 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- Seasonings to taste: cayenne, paprika, dry mustard, salt, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, oregano, bay leaves
- Cut chicken thighs into bite-size pieces and season liberally with cayenne, paprika, dry mustard, salt, black pepper, white pepper.
- Allow chicken to soak in seasonings for 5 minutes, then add 2 cups flour and all of the chicken to a ziploc bag.
- Seal bag and mush chicken with flour until fully coated.
- Prepare roux by combining 2 cups flour and oil and stirring slowly for 30-45 minutes until thickened and dark brown (the process takes a while but it’s the most important part of the gumbo, so here’s a step-by-step guide).
- In between stirring roux, chop Holy Trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery into one inch cubes.
- Cut kielbasa into half inch slices and okra into one inch pieces.
- In another pan, brown chicken pieces on all sides and remove to drain oil.
- Once roux is finished, add vegetables to the mixture and stir until roux is extremely dark and bubbling.
- Add chicken, canned tomatoes, chicken stock, kielbasa, garlic, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce to roux and vegetable pot.
- Top off with okra pieces.
- Once everything is mixed together, turn heat down to low and simmer for 2-3 hours.
- Serve in a bowl topped with long-grain white rice and green onions.