Cook the Book: Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Cook the Book: Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

My New Orleans by John Besh includes no fewer than five recipes for gumbo, which isn't really all that shocking considering gumbo is the epitome of Louisiana cooking. The ingredients vary widely but all the recipes involve a thick roux.

This Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo starts with a roux made up of equal parts fat and flour, which are slowly cooked until the mix makes its way from a light tan all the way to a deep, rich brown. The roux provides a rich base for this hearty stew of sausage, chicken, okra and the holy trinity of Cajun cooking—celery, onions, and green peppers.

Along with the trinity of vegetables, there's another trio of New Orleans ingredients at play in this gumbo, the three thickening agents: roux, okra, and filé powder. The gooey insides of the okra along with the filé ensure that the finished gumbo is thick and hearty.

20100303creolespices.jpg Besh's custom blend of Creole Spices give this gumbo a wonderful savory depth and kick. The leftovers can be used for anything from fried chicken coating to blackening seasoning.

Gumbo is generally served family-style with white rice and filé powder on the side. This way everyone can choose their own ratio of gumbo-to-rice and increase the thickness with additional filé powder. If you decide to make this gumbo at home, be sure to invite a crowd of people over. The recipe makes an absolute ton of spicy and very satisfying gumbo.

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  • Yield:10 to 12


  • 1 cup rendered chicken fat or canola oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 large chicken, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows)
  • 2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced fresh okra
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Filé powder
  • Tabasco
  • White rice for serving
  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice


  1. 1.

    Make a roux by heating the chicken fat or oil in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate and continue whisking until the roux takes on a deep brown color, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, stirring them into the roux with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue stirring until the roux is a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Season the chicken with Creole Spices. Add the chicken to the pot, raise heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until browned, about 10 minutes.

  3. 3.

    Add the smoked sausage and stir for a minute before adding the celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the thyme, Chicken Stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and skim off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

  4. 4.

    Add the andouille, okra, and Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat off the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé at the table.

  5. 5.

    Basic Creole Spices

  6. 6.

    - makes 1/2 cup -

  7. 7.

    Mix together the celery salt, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and allspice in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and store.