Friday, February 9, 2024

Gumbo, Love it or Leave it?

I have heard there are one or two people out there who do not like gumbo. I am so sorry for you. However, this is America. Good men and women have fought our enemies to assure you have the right to make your own decisions about what you eat, regardless of what the abolitionists might say.

Like you, I have also heard the story of a person (many years back) who did not like gumbo at all. The version of their demise I heard says they died a terrible death when they found themselves at Claude Leblatt's Cafe on Bayou Platt, just south of Dulac where sausage and chicken gumbo was the only dish the menu offered on the Thursday night they dropped by for dinner. I understand there is a historic marker just inside the door of Leblatt's commemorating this tragedy. At least they probably had a cold can of Jax to lessen their culinary pain as they took their last breath. We will now pause for a moment of silence for this poor soul.


On a more serious note, I know there many different styles of gumbo and that everyone has a preferred recipe for making this popular Cajun dish. Your recipe is likely the one you got from your Maw Maw and (yes, I understand) there is none that comes close to it – anywhere or ever.

Please allow me to upset you right away by saying there is not enough space in the comments section below or sufficient internet bandwidth anywhere to get into a discussion on yea/nay concerning the use of tomatoes in a gumbo.

Hopefully we can agree there is no perfect way to make a gumbo, other than your way. Whatever recipe we use, our goal is to wind up with the perfect bowl of this popular Louisiana dish. I bet most of us agree whenever we think about the dish a certain taste profile and visual appearance stands out.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

I make chicken and sausage gumbo as often as I like, which is a lot, and I make it twenty different ways. I drop the chicken into the pot raw and cook it with the gumbo. I fry my chicken and add that to the gumbo, I use leftover Popeye's or gas station fried chicken, I buy a rotisserie chicken and use that. It is my gumbo and to me, there is tremendous satisfaction in the fact that I don't have to do it any way other than what I want at that moment. I make my gumbo using chicken, sausage, shrimp, crab, whatever I want. You can do it your way too. After all, it will be your gumbo when you finish.

To make your chicken and sausage gumbo this way, you will need:

- A roux
- The cajun trinity (onion, bell pepper, and celery)
- chicken, raw, fried, rotessary, whatever
- sausage - andouille or your brand
- minced garlic, or garlic powder, or garlic salt
- Chicken broth is nice
- Some type of Cajun or Creole seasoning

At my house, gumbo is served with rice or potato salad, or not, and crusty bread

Nowadays, gumbo is a common menu offering at many restaurants. At one time, it was more limited to the deep south (as in Louisiana). Now it is a fairly common offering. CAUTION - Some of them are not all that good and sometimes really bad, for anyone who has had classic Cajun or Creole gumbo.

Gumbo thoughts, actually more than you ever wanted to know about making gumbo:

Making a Roux: 

- This is a cooked mixture of flour and oil. Mine uses one part AP flour and a little less than one part of some sort of fat (Lard, shortening, vegetable oil, bacon fat, butter, whatever). I usually cook my roux to a brown shoe or chocolate bar darkness. I do mine on the stove top or in the oven with flour and slightly less oil, cooking it slowly, over medium heat with constant stirring until it reaches the color of brown shoes, or a Hershey's chocolate bar. The darkness of roux is a hugely personal thing, and someone will always criticize your roux as being too light or too dark.

There are a few roux rules you might want to remember, because they will determine the consistency, color and taste of your gumbo.

(1) The darker the roux, the more "nutty" the flavor will be. Light roux will have a gravy taste. Darker roux will have more of a roasted nut taste. Burnt roux will always taste burnt and should be thrown away and started again.

(2) The darker the roux, the less thickening ability it will have - in fact, I think you can get a really dark roux that will not thicken the gumbo at all. I like my gumbo slightly thickened and usually stop before reaching the "Really Dark Roux" stage.

(3) Using more oil might make it easier to make a roux but it can make your gumbo very oily. You can skim it off with a spoon - I like to use a paper towel, placed flat on top of the surface of my gumbo and then removed and thrown away after it absorbs some of the oil that floats on the top of oily gumbo. Done, enough times, and you can pretty much take away all of the oil from the top of oily gumbo.

4) A roux, cooking in a skillet on top of the stove is a lot like molten lava. It can burn the H--- out of you and leave permanent scars like the one on my left forearm. Be careful as you constantly stir your roux.

(5) If you don't stir your roux, you will likely burn it.

Having said all of this, I have learned to cook my roux in the oven at 350 - 400 degrees F, in a cast iron skillet, with a little less oil than flour. Start it cooking in the oven then stir it at 5-10 minutes and then every 15 minutes until it gets as dark as you like. Mine takes about 30 minutes to get chocolate dark in the oven. That's longer than on the stove top, but nearly failure-proof and allows it to cook without needing constant stirring. I will foolishly tell you it is almost impossible to burn a roux cooked at 350 in the oven. You might be able to burn it at 400 so start off at a lower temp and modify your method to suit your skill.

Other options: Some folks cook/brown their flour with no oil in the oven. Some folks cook their roux in the microwave. Famed chef Paul Prudhomme cooked his roux using a wide open flame as hot as he could get it and made a perfect flour and oil dark roux in a heavy skillet in 5-10 minutes, never burning it. All I can say, is I never claimed to be able to make a Paul Prudhomme style roux but I was always pretty good at burning it if I attempted his method.

Trinity – Please excuse me for saying this. Some gumbo cooks call this the “Holy Trinity” but to me, there is no Holy Trinity other than the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, so I never call it Holy. The vegetable trinity used in gumbo is some combination of chopped onion, celery, and green bell pepper. I like a little more onion and a little less celery and bell pepper in my trinity. Sometimes I will throw in a little red bell pepper, but it is not needed. The trinity is normally sauteed in the cooked roux just before adding the liquid to cool it off and keep the vegetables from burning. Oh, lots of trinity in your gumbo is a good thing.

Meat: The gumbo I am making here uses chicken and sausage. There are many other meat combinations that work well in a gumbo. There are seafood gumbos, with shrimp, fish, oysters, whatever. Classic Cajun and Creole folks would make a gumbo with either chicken and sausage, or seafood and sausage, or just seafood. Many will say their gumbo must have sausage, regardless. Depending on circumstance, they might also use rabbit or squirrel, quail, doves, or whatever fish, fowl, or meat they had at the moment. Author James Lee Burke's crime novel character "Dave Robicheaux" often mentions cooking blackbird gumbo. There is also a vegetable only gumbo called Gumbo Z'Herbes, usually served during Lent, that traditionally uses seven different leafy green vegetables with ho meat added. What do I think? It is your gumbo, and I would most likely eat it with the gusto of a Hound Dog.

Let's get to the important stuff.

In this recipe I used rotisserie precooked chicken for the meat. It has good chicken flavor, it's fairly cheap at Sams or Costco, and it saves a lot of time if I feel lazy. I also used the carcass (water, bones and skin plus some onion, celery, salt, and black pepper) to make the chicken stock

Stock - The stock I used was made using the chicken carcass, with some celery and onion to add flavor. For my rotisserie chicken gumbo, I stripped the meat from the bird, set it aside, and threw everything else, including the skin into the pot to boil with the water and vegetables to pull as much flavor as I could from the bones and skin. Some will roast their chicken carcass, preferring the flavor that comes from roasted bones in their stock. Some will simply add a can or two of chicken broth, better than bouillon paste, or a couple or four chicken bouillon cubes. Some will use ham stock, or (if making seafood gumbo) seafood or shrimp stock. I have had pretty good gumbo that used mixed chicken and beef stock.

-Seasoning usually includes salt, black pepper, and Cajun or Creole seasoning with whatever you use, added to season to taste.

- Cooked rice is normally added for serving. Some folks serve their gumbo with potato salad and that is an interesting alternative to using rice. I had some once with a baked sweet potato. It was tasty. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable to serve gumbo with no rice or anything else, but most folks use a big spoonful of rice or potato salad.

- Other ingredients - Some folks will use okra in their gumbo for flavor and as a thickening. Eventually I will post an okra gumbo recipe because I like okra. It is a highly controversial subject, but some add tomato. That is fine with me - Sometimes I do. Some folks will add a boiled egg or cook an egg in their gumbo. Some will thicken the gumbo with gumbo file (ground dried sassafras leaves). I may have read where the FDA has classified file as a potential carcinogen. Some folks add other spices, garlic, wine, whatever.

Ingredients for making 4 quarts of gumbo, which will serve somewhere between 4 and 10 folks:


1 heaping cup AP flour
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt


1 Large onion, chopped (2 cups)
2 medium bell peppers, chopped (1 1/2 cup)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 1/2 cup)


3 cups rotisserie chicken


3 cups Andouille sausage, or your brand

Chicken stock: 8 Cups


1 - 2 Tablespoons Cajun or Creole Seasoning - to taste 
1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper - to taste
2 Tablespoons Lawry's Garlic Salt, or 2-3 cloves minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon LA Gold Pepper sauce or your brand - to taste
salt and black pepper - to taste

My dish uses a brown shoe or chocolate dark roux. The one shown here was cooked on the stove top. It could have just as easily been done in the oven. When completed, I added my sausage, followed by the onion, quickly followed with celery and bell pepper. and pretty quickly after that I added the stock and cook it for +- 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, I added the chicken, the seasonings, and cooked that for a while. I like to make my gumbo early in the day and let it sit for a while to allow the flavors to settle in before serving it. It always tastes better the next day.

This gumbo freezes well. We always keep some in the freezer for lazy meals.

I serve my gumbo with cooked long grain rice and garnish it with a little chopped green onion if I want it to be pretty. Crusty bread is a nice accompaniment.

A future post teaser - yes, I used tomatoes and chicken and okra:

Thanks for looking at my long-long post.

God Bless you


Anonymous said...

Use bacon grease as you roux oil and it’s much better. And where do you buy Louisiana Gold hot sauce in the metro Jackson area?

Anonymous said...

when someone asks me how long it takes to make a roux, my answer is 3 beers

Anonymous said...

Nobody south of a Buckatunna to McComb to Woodville line has ever eaten potato salad with gumbo. That's as much a sacrilege as adding spaghetti to a fried catfish meal.

Your rice is strange looking. The grain is unusually long but looks real good and fluffy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for removing the shrimp tails, but you still got to pick up them bone-in wings.

Anonymous said...

Bad news: Louisiana Gold Hot Sauce has been discontinued.

Amazon has been the last source at nosebleed pricing.

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...


For reasons I don't know, LA Gold has pretty much disappeared. The last I bought came from Amazon. Target night have some. I will miss it if they have stopped mKing it.

Anonymous said...

I should've never opened this article up just before lunch.

Anonymous said...

Louisiana Gold was good, but it be gone. Crystal is excellent.

Anonymous said...

10:09 you're wrong. We stop at Sphar's in Des Allemands on the way back from Venice/Cocodrie and they serve potato salad on their gumbo. My coonass friend is the one who introduced it to me. I don't listen to couyons from Mississippi about what is or isn't considered cajun food.

Anonymous said...

I experienced file gumbo at a dinner party. It was the main dish and I had never seen any murky green gumbo before and was reluctant to try. It was dipped out of a large iron pot. Turned out real good with whole gumbo crabs, shrimp, and oysters in it.

Honk for the Mayor! said...

Thanks, Bear! I've been wondering what to do for the Super Bowl... gumbo it is. I'll try some of your twists. I never took to adding file'... always seemed to make it runny. I do, though, always add just a really small pinch of cinnamon at the end... gives it a little depth of flavor. Love your posts!

Anonymous said...

If you're ordering your andouille, my personal preference is from Jacob's in LaPlace. I was planning on making a teal and sausage gumbo this weekend as a matter of fact. Gumbo is best cooked in a Magnalite pot over a double burner at the camp and always better the next day.

Anonymous said...

For any Gumbo, I use homemade crab and shrimp stock, which is made with a base of chicken stock and shells of crab and shrimp, boiled a couple hours. My Trinity mix includes poblano peppers, in lieu of green bell peppers, with Roux not quite as dark as above. It looks great, and the long grain, fluffy white rice interesting as mentioned above. The comment that light roux is diminished by gravy taste is totally spot on.

Anonymous said...

I just got a few problems , let’s start with Chicken Broth , no Creole or Cajun Louisianan would dare. That goes for the chicken carcus or any other ham bone etc. You don’t use a chicken per se either ( it shreds off the bone) You use a Hen preferably 3 months or older . In Lafayette we don’t have potato salad ,only thing on the side is beer. In New Orleans potato salad on the side has been a tradition longer than my wife’s 65 years.

Anonymous said...

Bear,you are brave to write an article about Gumbo for a Mississippi group. Every lunchroom south of Racetrack La. will have Crystal Hot sauce on the cafeteria table. I heard there was this yankee that was found in Golden Meadows with a bottle of that Tobasco junk food and later came up missing . However they did find a leg with a black sock and a sandal in the bayou.I think the reason behind the meats in the gumbo was whatever was on hand, especially for hunters and fishers. This time of year wild ducks are a good mix. I also use a lot of okra. If you are a vegetable gardener you usually have more than you ever need. Country Pleasing on Hwy 49 has an amazing assortments of sausages and other meat selections if you haven’t been there.Worth the trip.

MBrookes said...

It all sounds wonderful, but it just a torture for those of us who cannot have gluten.In my case, this is not a choice, but a medical condition. I can make a light roux using gluten free flour, but it is even more delicate than making one with wheat flour. Problem solved: Sal & Phil's has a wonderful gluten free gumbo.

Anonymous said...

Gumbo on, NFL off.

Anonymous said...

@10:48 - I've eaten that same dish at Sphar's a few times myself when traveling to Houma. Sure tasted good to me.

Anonymous said...

The baking the roux trick is awesome! A lot of people are doing that now instead of stirring the pot.

Anonymous said... are totally wrong. Everyone in my wife's hometown of Jennings, La puts potato salad in their gumbo.

Anonymous said...

Potato salad IN their gumbo? You, your wife and all of Jennings, if that's true, which it ain't, are Kra Kra.

Okra is the food of road-gang prisoners, lessen it's fried, on the side. I put oysters in my gumbo just toward the last five minutes. Same with shrimp.

A coon-ass, if you research the breed, will eat any damned thing short of dingleberries and the jury is still out on that.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely nothing that anyone can post on this site that you bunch of grumbling old geezers won't say is wrong or why your way is better. It's an effing recipe that Bear wants to share out of the goodness of his heart, for God's sake. Get a life, people!

Anonymous said...

I don’t waste my time with a Roux anymore. There is Kary’ Dry Roux, it’s fat free with no sodium. It’s made in Ville Plate. As for andouille, folks from the bayous of Acadiana consider this a waste of meat. It’s not seasoned or smoked. The andouille we grew up with were the intestines of pig washed countless times turned in side out with the small intestine stuffed into large, it was seasoned then smoked over an open pit in the smokehouse. Put that in a Gumbo and you will lick the bowl.

Anonymous said... guess is that you have never been down there and have no idea what the hell you are talking about. Get a life and stop acting like you know everything you idiot. Or even better, go down there and find out for yourself.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:00 - I had planned to go 'down there' one time, but they insisted that I bring my sister for some sort of welcome ritual. I declined. Like I said, 'read up on those people'. They came originally from French prisons accompanied by prostitutes.

Each prisoner brought a bag of okra, six chicken-foots and the equivalent of two dollars.

Anonymous said...

This is classic chicken and sausage gumbo fixin's at our house. I have a grease and gravy spattered copy of Paul Prudhomme's original cookbook and this recipe is very close to his. One of my favorite recipes is okra and seafood gumbo which uses OKRA to make the roux, not flour, so the anti-gluten people should check that out.

For the skeptics, I assure you that serving potato salad on the side is a classic combination in coon-ass country. I like rice better because I'm allergic to eggs and my hubby won't eat mayo, but that's just us.

Zatarains makes great andouille and Conecuh makes great smoked sausage. That country-pleasing garbage is oversalted and overrated, IMHO.

Thank you, Mr. Bear. Your recipe and riffs on gumbo recipes are perfect!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Bear. The gumbo recipe and related comments are very special. I am 76 years old and was born and raised near Beaumont, Texas. Our families worked in the refineries and included families that relocated from Southwest Louisiana, so there was plenty of gumbo to be eaten. I really like your recipe and it is similar to the Emeril Lagasse chicken/sausage recipe that I have used for years. I still make my own roux in a cast iron dutch oven on the cooktop. My brother still lives in the Beaumont area but now uses roux in a jar. I am not smart enough to learn how to use this type roux. Lately I have made a couple of gumbos using Robert St. John’s shrimp and sausage recipe. He uses both okra and tomatoes in his gumbo, which I have found to be quite tasty. Sometimes I include both rice and potato salad in my bowl of gumbo. And, yep, some Cajuns eat it this way, for sure.
Thanks again for taking the time to post your recipes and memories on this site. As you say, it is your gumbo…make it the way you like it.

C-Pleasin' in My Gumbo and Beer For My Hosses said...

For the gentle-lady at 7:53 - You did very well with your post until you lashed out at the locally-made product people nationwide are trying to get.

Just a few lines earlier you had politely bored us with the picky-eating habits of you and your husband and you gently said, 'But that's just us'.

When you slammed Country-Pleasin' why couldn't you just conclude your snark with 'but that's just us' instead of being a jackass?

I don't find CP salty at all and will take it any day over the greasy reality of Conecu. If I want extra grease in my gumbo, I'll add it. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

I love Country Pleasin. My favorite is the original. Cajun is good too. Make a trip to their place on 49. Don't go there hungry. I did my first time and went deaf and blind trying to scarf up everything. haha Excellent stuff.

But that's just me.
And my family.
And everyone I've every served Country Pleasin to.

And thanks for another great recipe.

Anonymous said...

Hey look, everyone, at the pot at 11:05 calling the 7:53 kettle black. Conecuh is made in Birmingham which is "local". You bored us with your personal taste comments about the over-salted country pleasing gunk and your snark. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I reckon Birmingham (and Tuscaloosa too) are local to you sportsfans with the BAMA tags who have never been to either place. Har.

Black Tux - Brown Shoes said...

Coneca = Oil Sausage, a Southern favorite in the 30s and 40s.

Rule #4 - Never put anything in gumbo that requires one to pick it up by using fingers.

Anonymous said...

I figured the discussion of this gumbo recipe was going to be on like a pot of neckbones.

It was.
Like A Pot Of Neckbones · Beau Jocque And The Zydeco Hi-Rollers

Check It Out, Lock It In, Crank It Up!

Anonymous said...

This was the easiest gumbo I have ever made. 1cup plain flour to 1/2cup canola oil. Baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes then stir and repeat. After 50 minutes it was smooth and dark like a melted Hershey bar.
I found Louisiana Gold at Ramey's in Brandon Friday night before the parade. I bought 4 bottles but left more on the shelf.

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