This yummy chicken and sausage gumbo recipe has a taste of New Orleans in every bite. It’s loaded with chicken, smoked sausage, vegetables and spices.
Oak Alley Plantation is a gorgeous antebellum home located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Vacherie, Louisiana, about 50 miles west of New Orleans. My last Thanksgiving as a single girl, I visited the plantation with my mom and dad. The next year I would be a bride and sharing holidays with my husband’s family.
My first night at the plantation, I discovered a cookbook the plantation restaurant put out of Cajun and Creole recipes. I spent most of the night poring over the recipes. A short time later, I made my first pot of chicken and sausage gumbo using a recipe I found within the book.
What is Gumbo?
Gumbo is much like a stew. It is probably the most popular and well-know dish when it comes to Louisiana cuisine. Every basic gumbo recipe starts with a roux and includes something called the trinity – green bell peppers, chopped onions and celery. From there you will find a million and one different variations, but it is always served with rice.
It Starts with a Roux
A roux is nothing more than equal parts fat and flour. It’s used not only to thicken gumbo, but can also thicken gravy and sauces. Check out my post on how to make a roux where I go into a lot more detail on making the perfect roux.
Over the years, I’ve discovered I prefer a roux made with a combination of butter and oil. The butter gives the roux a velvety texture, but the fat content can cause the flour to clump up later. A little bit of oil keeps everything smooth.
Start by heating one stick of unsalted butter and a ¼ cup of vegetable or canola oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter and oil are hot, gradually add ½ cup of all-purpose flour, a little at a time, and whisk in between each addition. Don’t add the flour all at once or it could clump up.
Here is the most important part of the entire process — mind your roux! Don’t walk off and come back a few minutes later or you could discover that your roux is burned. Burned roux is bitter. If you burn it, there is no coming back. You have to throw everything away and start over.
Don’t let that intimidate you. Making a roux is very easy, it just takes some care. Once you add the flour, keep the roux moving in the pan by stirring constantly. A roux comes in four different colors – white, blonde, brown and dark brown. The longer you cook it, the darker the color becomes and the more intense the flavor. We are going to cook this roux for eight minutes until it is a dark brown color, similar to the color of peanut butter.
How to Make Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Next, we are going to add the Cajun Holy Trinity – one cup of chopped white onions, ½ cup chopped green bell pepper and ½ cup diced celery. In addition, we are going to add one tablespoon of Italian seasoning, one tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried) and one pound of andouille or smoked sausage.
Andouille sausage is very similar in flavor to smoked sausage. It is a little more heavily seasoned and smoked longer than regular smoked sausage. If you have easy access to andouille sausage, go ahead and use it. If not, use smoked sausage. It will not greatly affect the flavor of the dish.
Next, add one pound of cooked, shredded chicken. I prefer chicken thighs because they have more flavor and shred pretty easily. One tip, the gumbo calls for four cups of chicken broth. If you have the time, boil your chicken thighs, skins removed, in 5 cups of water for 20-30 minutes until they are cooked through. Remove the thighs to allow them to cool enough where you can shred them. Voila! Now you have cooked chicken and broth for the gumbo.
Once you’ve added the chicken and the broth, bring the mixture to a boil. Then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Afterwards, add 2 cups of sliced fresh or frozen okra, two tablespoons of Creole seasoning, one tablespoon of sugar, ¼ cup of picante sauce, and two bay leaves. Return the gumbo to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for one additional hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
While your gumbo is cooking, go ahead and cook four cups of white rice. To serve, spoon a generous helping of rice in a bowl and ladle the gumbo over the top. People down here like to sprinkle the top of their gumbo with filé powder, which is ground sassafras leaves. My husband likes to add a dash or two of hot sauce.
How to Store Gumbo
Leftover gumbo should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I recommend keeping the gumbo and rice separate, as the rice will absorb much of the liquid in the gumbo. Chicken and sausage gumbo should be eaten within four days.
Likewise, chicken and sausage gumbo can be frozen for up to six months. You can store it in a freezer-safe airtight container. Just be sure to leave some room at the top for expansion. I prefer to spoon servings into a freezer bag. Again, leave some room for expansion, fold the bag over the contents to remove any air, seal, then lay flat in the freezer. Once it’s frozen solid, it doesn’t take up as much room. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
- 1 pound andouille or smoked sausage cut into ¼-inch slices
- 1 pound cooked chicken shredded
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups fresh or frozen okra
- 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup picante sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups cooked white rice
- Filé powder optional
- Heat butter and oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat until butter is melted.
- Gradually add flour, stirring constantly to make a roux. Continue stirring for 8 minutes until roux becomes dark brown, similar to the color of chocolate.
- Reduce heat to low.
- Add onions, green bell peppers, celery, Italian seasoning, parsley, sausage, chicken and broth.
- Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the okra, Creole seasoning, sugar, picante sauce and bay leaves.
- Return to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Remove and discard bay leaf.
- Place a generous amount of cooked rice into individual bowls.
- Pour gumbo over rice.
- Sprinkle with file powder if desired.