Continuing with my theme of naming dishes after the people I cook them for, I present Lael’s gumbo.

Lael is one of my dearest SF friends who I’ve really never cooked for before. Until now. The thing is, most of my culinary expertise would kill Lael. She’s allergic to shellfish and dairy. That almost rules out the entire cajun and creole spectrum. I kept trying to think of something I could cook for her and kept coming up with blanks.

When I was home for Christmas, my dad cooked up some duck gumbo while I nursed a hangover and watched college bowl games. Then it hit me. Figure out how to make a roux from animal fats and oil instead of butter, then just do a chicken and sausage gumbo. Boom!

Here’s what you’ll need to make Lael’s gumbo:
  • 1.5 lbs. skinless chicken thighs. 
  • 1-1.5 lbs. of andouille sausage.
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 8 cups of chicken stock or broth. We’re not deglazing it doesn’t matter. Low sodium is a good choice here. 
  • 1 cup flour 
  • 1 chopped yellow or white onion. About 2 cups. Vidalia preferred. 
  • 2 chopped green bell peppers. About a cup.  
  • 1 cup chopped celery 
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions. 
  • Few tablespoons chopped parsley. 2? 
  • A few bay leaves. 
  • White rice. 
  • Fresh French bread. 
  • Tony Cachere’s Creole Seasoning or something equivalent. 
  • A spicier dry rub for chicken (optional). 
  • Crystal hot sauce for tableside. No, you can’t use Tabasco. 
  1. Chop up your onions, peppers, and celery ahead of time. Rough chops are OK; this is Cajun country food here. Some people are good enough to do this during the roux phase (like my entire family). I’m not that good. Chances are you’re not either if you’re reading this. Chop ahead of time and put it in the fridge. 
  2. Toss the chicken thighs in a dry rub. I used Rub With Love since my mom gave it to me for my birthday. Pretty good and I recommend it! 
  3. Cut the andouille sausage into .5-.75 inch pieces. BTW, you say "awn-doo-wee." Not "anne-doo-wee." Food Network people have it all wrong. 
  4. In a black widow (big cast iron pot) or a suitably large dutch oven (4 qt), add a tablespoon of olive oil and bring to medium heat.  
  5. Add the sausage and cook until browned. About 7-8 minutes or so. Yes, most sausages bought in the US are already boiled and cooked, but this process gives the sausage a nice texture and releases fats into the pot. The fats are necessary for the roux. 
  6. Pull the sausage out with tongs or a slotted spoon and rest them in a bowl lined with paper towels. 
  7. Add chicken thighs and brown them well for about 5 minutes. Do them in batches if your pot isn’t big enough — mine isn’t. 
  8. Pull the chicken from the pot and place the thighs in the sausage bowl. Refrigerate the bowl. 
  9. Add the 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1 cup of flour to the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low. 
  10. Stir the mixture frequently and cook for about 20 minutes. You’re going for a chocolatey dark brown color here. Fowl and sausage gumbos are darker than seafood gumbos. Keep stirring so that the roux doesn’t burn. Honestly, you cannot stir enough. Don’t wander off and try to multitask towards the later stages or you’ll ruin it and have to start all over. Terrible in this recipe since it means you’ll lose the animal fats from the chicken and sausage. 
  11. Add the cajun trinity (peppers, celery, onions) that you chopped earlier. Yes, it will get thick. Just stir ‘em all up and cook until wilted for about 4-5 minutes. 
  12. Add in the sausage from earlier and about 1.5 tablespoons of Tony’s. Some people add cayenne here, too, but I think that Tony’s is enough here. 
  13. Slowly stir in the 8 cups of chicken stock. Add the bay leaves during this process. You want to make sure you get it all good and mixed up. No clumpy parts or anything. 
  14. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low/low-medium. Cook uncovered for an hour and stir every 15 minutes or so. 
  15. Add the chicken to the pot and simmer for about an hour and a half. Skim off the pockets of oil that rise to the top. Healthy yo! 
  16. With about 10 minutes left, start warming your french bread in the oven. 
  17. Remove the pot from heat. 
  18. Remove the chicken from the gumbo using some tongs and place them on a dish. With a fork, shred the chicken. It should be so tender that this is very easy. 
  19. Add the chicken back to the pot along with the chopped green onions and parsley. Stir slowly. 
  20. Serve over hot white rice in a gumbo or pasta bowl. Don’t forget about the French bread! Pair with a red Cotes du Rhone or some Abita Turbodog. 
  21. Add hot sauce to taste tableside. Shouldn’t need much! 
You need a bitchin’ apron if you’re going to do some serious cooking.
Brown the chicken.
The start of the roux. The black/brown flecks are leftover from the chicken and sausage. Things are starting off well.
Think you’re done? Nope. Not yet.
Now you’re done with the roux.
Time for the Cajun trinity.
Mix in the stock with the sausage. Add the chicken later.
After cooking for a while in the gumbo, pull out the chicken and shred it.
Add the chicken back with onions and parsley…..and done!
Plate and serve!
Goes well with a nice Cotes du Rhone. Even better when it’s a bottle you won off a friend who’s a Giants fan. Who dat?! Geaux Saints!


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