Back when I was growing up, on any given chilly weekend day, you could find my Mother and Step-Father cooking up a HUMONGOUS batch of Gumbo. It did require most of the day. They would start early around 8 or 9 AM and we'd finally get to eat early afternoon. It was well worth it though!!
Gumbo is such a versatile meal. You can use just about any meat and veggie you like! I'm pretty picky so I do not use fish or certain veggies like okra. I'm going to give you the basics, but as I go along I'll also include some of the variations my family has used. Also, in my household there is only my husband, me, and my dog Louie. I make half-batches of gumbo, whereas my mom and step-dad would make a full batch being double the recipe I'm about to give you. You will see about how much it makes by the pictures. For a family of 4 or more, you might want to make a full batch. Just double this recipe. It freezes well!
* 4 large chicken breasts (make extra if you want some nibble nuggets)
* 1 package sausage or kielbasa
* 2 cups of Flour
* Tony Chachere's Seasoning
* Vegetable Oil
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 2 large green peppers, chopped
* half package of celery, chopped
* 1/2 package of green onions, thinly sliced
* 1 Can rotel tomatoes (if doubling batch, still use just 1 can)
* 1 cup chicken broth or 1 chicken bouillon cube
* Water, about 8 cups
* Rice or Pasta
**** Hold Tony's seasoning away from your face when pouring or sprinkling. If accidentally inhaled it WILL burn your nose. ******
**** If you do not like spicy food, mix Tony Chachere's seasoning and flour together. Than mix with chicken. Omit Tony's everywhere except for 1 Tablespoon over cooking vegetables*****
(I use chicken breasts. I have seen and tasted other variations such as: chicken thighs, whole chicken taken off the bone, chicen tenderloins, and quail. I can assure you once they're in the gumbo it all tastes pretty much the same. : D)
Cut chicken in bite-sized pieces, remember after they're cooked they'll be bigger so I like around 1" pieces.
Take a gallon sized plastic bag and put about 1/4 C Tony Chachere's Seasoning in it. Toss chicken in Tony's until coated. In seperate bag, pour 2 cups of flour in and then add your chicken. Toss and shake until well coated. With tongs or your fingers, pull out the floured chicken and place on paper plate, put a little flour on the plate to prevent sticking.
Fill a frying pan with oil until it's about an inch thick. You can also use a deep fryer. Once hot (crackles with a flick of water) drop in your chicken pieces one at a time, in a single layer. Allow to cook until golden brown. For this size recipe, I cook the chicken in two batches. While cooking, prepare a paper plate with several layers of paper towels on it for the cooked chicken.
(TIP: When first batch of chicken is done, take half the chicken out, and scoot the cooked chicken to one side of pan. Drop a few pieces of raw chicken on the other side THEN remove the rest of the cooked chicken. This prevents the oil from burning and making your chicken taste yucky.) Chicken rolled in Tony's and flour and fried make wonderful nibbles. That's why it might be best to make extra, because between you and your household you may not have much left for the gumbo if you don't hide them. = D
(I use Beef smoked sausage but you can also use kielbasa, or any other good quality sausage.)
Cut your sausage into bite-sized pieces. Cook on med-high heat until good and dark. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon Tony's Seasoning. I like mine almost burnt, which gives me time to cut up most of my veggies while cooking. Stir often to brown on all sides. Cut up veggies while sausage is cooking - then place on paper towel-lined paper plate.
Get a BIG bowl for your veggies, also a small bowl for your Green onions. You can chop of your veggies while sausage is cooking, or do it ahead of time. Cut up the yellow onions, green peppers, celery, and any other veggies you would like to use and place them aside. Thinly slice your green onions. I put a few of them in with the other veggies, but the majority will go in last.
(Some other veggies I have seen used: Zucchini, Cabbage, red or yellow Peppers, Okra, and Hot peppers. )
Prepare a paper plate with layers of paper towel for your sausage. Take sausage out carefully leaving the grease and bits in the pan for your vegetables. Beef sausage does not produce much grease so I leave a few pieces of sausage in the pan to cook with the veggies for flavor.
Once sausage is removed, add your bowl of veggies and sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons Tony's seasoning. Cook until tender.
Roux is the KEY to gumbo. There are several ways to make roux ahead of time. Cooking the oil and flour before adding it to the vegetables. I have found that cooking it WITH the vegetables produces pretty much the same result. *My way - In a seperate bowl, mix 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup flour. When vegetables are tender add roux. Keep cooking vegetables and roux until mixture is slightly brown and vegetables are done (about 10 minutes.) This mixture will be very thick. Stir often to prevent sticking.
In very large pot on high heat put in 2 cups of water and 1 chicken bouillon cube or (1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken broth.) When boiling, add in your veggie/roux mixture. Stir to mix. Add sausage and 2 more cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add chicken and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
Now, depending on the size of your vegetables and how much meat you have in your gumbo, you may or may not have to add water or heat. Is your gumbo too thick? One way to tell is to take a ladel, dip it in your gumbo as if you were going to serve. If there's more than 2 pieces of meat in the ladel, I add more water. This most recent time I added 2 more cups of water making a total of 8 cups water. It was perfect.
When your gumbo is at its desired consitancy take a taste test. Sip some of the liquid to judge its heat. I usually add another 1/4 C Tony Cachere's to the mix to make it EXTRA hot. If you do not like much heat, you may want to go easy on the Tony's throughout this recipe.
Continue to boil for another 15 -30 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta. Leftovers?? Once gumbo is left to cool, it will thicken. To re-heat add a tablespoon or 2 of water for each serving, and heat on stove-top. ENJOY!