'True Blood's' Gumbo Ya Ya

'True Blood's' Gumbo Ya Ya

[Photograph: Alex Farnum]

Gumbo makes many appearances in True Blood, so it's no surprise that the recipe is featured in the True Blood cookbook. A rich and nourishing stew, this gumbo recipe makes a pot filled to the brim with chicken, sausage, peppers, and unctuous, meaty gravy.

Like many of the other recipes in this book, the Gumbo Ya Ya is fairly simple, but its well-developed flavors more than make up for its short ingredient list. But I have a feeling the big pot of stew Lafayette regularly stirs on the show is filled with much more than chicken, sausage, and roux.

Why I picked this recipe: I really couldn't cook from a True Blood book without making some of Lafayette's famous gumbo.

What worked: Gumbo is seriously comforting stuff--think chicken soup for the Louisianan's soul.

What didn't: This gumbo generated a ton of grease as it cooked (1 cup of oil in the roux and the skin of a whole chicken will do that to a stew); I skimmed off much of it as it cooked, but next time, I'd remove the chicken skin before adding it to the pot. Also, be sure to use the biggest pot you've got--10 cups of liquid plus a chicken and a pound of sausage makes a larger volume than you'd think.

Suggested tweaks: Okra and shrimp are classic gumbo additions, but this gumbo also takes well to a bit of kale or collards.

Reprinted with permission from True Blood by Gianna Sobol and Alan Ball with Karen Sommer Shalett. Recipes by Marcelle Bienvenu. Copyright 2012. Published by Chronicle. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

  • Yield:serves 8
  • Active time: 1 hour
  • Total time:4 hours


  • 1 4- to 5-pound whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • about 10 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion (green part only)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Hot cooked rice, for serving
  • Filé powder (optional)


  1. 1.

    Season the chicken generously with salt and cayenne. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, combine the vegetable oil and flour over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is dark brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring, until very soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the broth and stir to blend well. Add the chicken, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is very tender, 2 to 3 hours.

  3. 3.

    Add the andouille and cook for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Discard the bay leaves and add the green onion and parsley. Put some rice into each soup bowl, and spoon some gumbo on top to serve. Pass the filé powder at the table, if you like.