by Andetrie Vicks, Staff Writer
Today when family and friends in Louisiana get together to enjoy each other’s company the style of cooking is still CAJUN/CREOLE. Traditional comfort foods are on the menu, like red beans and rice, fried catfish and most importantly gumbo. Gumbo is extremely diverse and every family makes it slightly different with their preference of meats, spices, and thickener.
In the beginning this tasty elixir was made by the people of South Louisiana, but it was just a simple soup using meats and vegetables cooking in water. Gumbo history reveals that African American imported okra found its way into the Louisiana kitchens, and provided gumbo with its name; Gumbo is the African word for okra. It was discovered that okra boosted the flavor, but more importantly it added some texture in the way of a thickening agent.
Later people found that flour browned in pig lard added a great color, texture and taste. This is where roux first made its appearance and changed gumbo history. Since then roux has become the dominant agent to thicken this famous Louisiana dish as nothing can match the colors and flavors as deep.
Another way of thickening is by adding the ground leaves from the sassafras tree: Filé. This fine seasoning was adopted from the local Choctaw Indians. The powder is added right before serving and adds a hearty taste that gumbo lovers seek.
Gumbo differs from bowl to bowl but one thing always remains the same, it is a Louisiana classic enjoyed by many. This is a recipe for a chicken sausage gumbo, one of the many variations of this dish.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Yield8 servcings
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 onions chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
- 4-5 celery stalks chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb Andouille or smoked sausage chopped and browned
- 1-2 lbs chicken cooked
- 10 cups chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp Kitchen Bouquet
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 2 tbsp parsley
- white rice
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, add in the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and brown. This forms the Roux. The roux will burn very easy if it’s not moving.
- Once roux is brown add onions, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the bell peppers and celery, and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Stir in the Kitchen Bouquet, garlic, sausage and Cajun seasoning and cook another 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth and bay leaves to the pot and bring it to a boil. Let the gumbo simmer for one hour.
- After an hour add parsley and cooked chicken to the gumbo and simmer 1 more hour
- Remove excess oil from the top of gumbo.
- Serve hot over white rice. People often add Filé, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to their individual bowls.