Cajun food is more than a store bought spice mix. It’s a rich and diverse culture with ties to French, Canadian and African cuisines with deep roots in the southern United States. This hearty chicken and sausage gumbo is the jumping off point for a huge range of Cajun side dishes, broths and stews. Give this gumbo the love and attention it deserves and it’ll pay you back tenfold.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
• 4 boneless chicken thighs
• 90 ml of Grapeseed or other neutral tasting oil (+ 1 tbsp to brown the chicken thighs)
• 70 g of plain flour
• 1 brown onion (diced)
• 1 green capsicum (diced)
• 1 rib of celery (diced)
• 1 jalapeño (diced) or 1⁄2 tsp of cayenne pepper
• 6-10 cloves of garlic (minced)
• 100 ml of VB (or other beer)
• 750 ml of chicken stock
• 200 g of Andouille sausage (sliced into rounds) − use kielbasa or a cured chorizo if you can’t get your hands on Andouille
• Steamed white rice for 4 (about 210 dried grams of white rice)
• Chives (thinly sliced)
1. Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of neutral tasting oil. Season your chicken thighs with salt and black pepper and brown on both sides. Remove the thighs from the Dutch oven and set aside − don’t worry about the chicken being undercooked at this stage. We’re just looking for colour at the moment.
2. To make the dark roux, turn your Dutch oven to medium heat and add the rest of your neutral tasting oil. Just before the oil starts to shimmer, add your flour. Carefully cook and stir the roux until it is the colour of melted chocolate.
Note: Make sure to keep the roux moving by continuously stirring and scraping the bottom and edges of the Dutch oven so it doesn’t burn. If you do happen to burn the roux, don’t worry about it, it happens to everyone! Just chuck it out and start again.
3. Once you’ve got a dark roux, add your diced brown onion, green capsicum, celery and a pinch of salt. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, and take in the incredible aromas of the Cajun kitchen. Once softened (about 5 minutes) add your diced jalapeño (or 1⁄2 tsp of cayenne pepper) and minced garlic. Continue to stir and cook until the garlic becomes aromatic (about 30 seconds).
4. Deglaze with your choice of beer, stirring until the smell of alcohol has dissipated.
5. Turn the heat to low and add your chicken stock, browned chicken thighs, smoked sausage and bay leaves.
6. Simmer for a minimum of an hour but preferably 3 to 4, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
Note: The best gumbos are the ones that bubble away for half a day or more, so if you have the time to cook it for longer: Do it!
7. Remove the bay leaves and ladle the gumbo into bowls. Serve with steamed rice and thinly sliced chives.
Recipe and photos by Kale Armstrong.