Staggeringly Delicious Gumbo

This is my staggeringly delicious gumbo. I have only shared the recipe in a YouTube video. Gumbo has been my signature dish since I operated Cooking with Denay, a small catering company almost 30 years ago. It was during a time when Cajun food was the toast of the town.

A few years ago a Facebook follower from Pennsylvania informed me that he was selling my Gumbo recipe. The gentleman had a food truck and was looking for something unique to sell and happened upon my gumbo recipe on YouTube. He turned Gumbo into Gold.

I have had a number of food truck owners ask me about the recipe and how to serve the Gumbo so I am going to give you the 411 on selling gumbo.

The Gumbo Recipe

Remember! Mardi Gras is February 16, 2021. Learn to make authentic Louisiana Gumbo. Gumbo is really neither a stew nor soup. It originated in South Louisiana during the 18th century. It is made from a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, includes what folks from Louisiana like to call the “Holy Trinity” celery, bell peppers, and onions; is thickened with okra, and filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves). Gumbo starts with a dark roux, made of flour and fat, and there are several varieties of gumbo; sausage and chicken, duck, shrimp, oyster, you name it someone has made a gumbo with it.

Below is Cooking with Denay’s original recipe for Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Note: The cast iron pot I used for this recipe was passed down several generations and will one day go to my daughter who will become a Gumbo Queen in her own right. If you want to purchase a great Gumbo Pot see the link below.

The one thing I love about it is there are heatproof handles that you can also purchase. My Gumbo pot handles get hot as heck, so oven mitts are needed. You may want to start your own Gumbo Pot tradition.

Gumbo Tip:

**When purchasing Gumbo Filé, or ground sassafras leaves, check the ingredient label carefully since some companies will cut the ground sassafras leaves with ground thyme, which gives the Gumbo File a bitter taste.

**If you select to use tomatoes in your Gumbo, *which is not in our recipe, remember, tomatoes have citric acid which is slightly less acidic than vinegar and may sour the taste of the Gumbo over time.

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**If you want more flavorful stock, make it from scratch if you do not want to use a store-bought chicken stock; and you can use chicken thighs and legs (dark meat) which is also more flavorful. I use chicken breast to reduce the calories, but that is a personal preference.

If you have a bit of fear about making the roux, you can purchase it from a company in Opelousas, LA. The product is called Savoie”s Real Cajun Old Fashioned Dark Roux and has been around for more than 60 years.

Authentic Louisiana Gumbo

4-6 large servings

2 ½ pounds raw chicken, skinned and cut-up (white and dark meat or all dark meat)
Chicken rub for the chicken
¼ cup dried parsley
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Canola oil

Combine chicken with chicken rub and set aside in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Heat a medium sauté pan; sauté chicken rubbed in seasoning, cook for 10-12 minutes. Do not overcook. Set aside.

Making the roux.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven
Add ½ cup vegetable oil and ½ cup flour, cook on medium heat and allow the roux to brown, reduce heat to prevent burning, and cook until chocolate brown. When dark chocolate brown, add all chopped vegetables.

Sauté vegetables in roux on medium-high heat, 5 minutes, reduce heat, add butter (yes, it makes a difference) sausage, ham, herbs, and spices. Cook on low medium heat for 15 minutes.

Set up the vegetables in a bowl, put all seasonings in a bowl, set aside.
Ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 ½ cups chopped onions
1 ½ cups chopped green onions
1 ½ cups green bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
1 large whole bay leaf
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 ½ teaspoon gumbo file (file powder is ground sassafras leaves; make sure the file powder is not cut with thyme, a common practice) Purchase Gumbo File powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
3 teaspoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons butter
½ pound smoked sausage (Polish sausage (kielbasa), cut into tiny cubes
¼ pound smoked ham (Cut into tiny cubes)
16-ounce bag of frozen cut okra or (fresh okra, washed and cut into 1/4-inch rounds)

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Cook the vegetables, sausage, ham, and spices/herbs for 15 minutes, then add 8 cups of low sodium chicken stock (You may use homemade chicken stock, just reduce the sodium); and 1 teaspoon minced garlic, bring to a boil for 5 minutes; then add the okra and allow your gumbo to cook on low for 45-50 minutes. Turn off, and let the gumbo set for 25-minutes and serve over cooked steamed rice, remember to remove the bay leaf.

Types of Gumbo

There are various types of gumbo. The primary ingredients are the holy trinity, onions, peppers, and celery. Many gumbos also have garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, thyme, and several other herbs and spices.

The base of gumbo comes from the type of meat or seafood you use. This is what will add to the flavor of the gumbo you make. You can use:

  • Oysters
  • Shrimp and/or dried shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Crab legs
  • Various smoked sausages
  • Steak (beef short ribs)

There are times when you can use tomatoes, but tomatoes add acid to the gumbo which can turn rancid over time. My recommendation is that is you want to use tomatoes, add them before serving. You may want to remove bits of tomatoes if you do not serve the entire batch.

To Serve or Not To Serve Gumbo With Rice

Rice is a stretcher. If you want the gumbo to serve more people, serve it with rice. My preference is to serve it without rice, but the choice is yours.

Anyone interested in selling gumbo will want to serve 6-8 ounces of gumbo in a container for hot foods and with a secure lid.

I would love to hear from you and learn about your signature food product and how it is received by your community. If you would like to feature Gumbo for Mardi Gras 2021, use the recipe above.

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