Our May hostess for The Daring Cooks’ challenge, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.
I’m no stranger to gumbo. Every year, my husband makes Emeril’s gumbo turkey ya-ya around Thanksgiving, and if we’re lucky, another pot at New Years’ Eve. It’s delicious. It’s also one of the few gumbos out there that doesn’t have okra and file powder in it, so it’s more to my husband’s tastes. The entire family looks forward to that gumbo.
When I went gluten-free, I asked him to make the gumbo gluten-free so I could enjoy it. This took some trials to get right. You see, the base of any good gumbo is the roux – that mix of cooked flour and oil that browns and adds so much flavor to the gumbo while thickening it. You can find just about any gluten-free flour can thicken a soup, if you put proper amounts in it, but finding a flour that browns similarly to wheat flour is a bit tricky. Regular rice flour failed – it was gritty, never soaking up the oil, and ultimately burning. Eventually, though, we got it right. When I saw that this month’s challenge was gumbo, I realized I was overdue in sharing this gluten-free gumbo version with you.
Since it’s May and not November, turkeys are scarce in the grocery stores. So in this instance, I substituted a similar amount of whole chickens. I have no real preference for one over the other – both were delicious. But what really made this gumbo, in my opinion, was the delicious cajun smoked sausage I found from a local rancher, Rehoboth Ranch. (In fact, I sourced the chickens from them too!) That, plus some andouille from Applegate Farms, really added a ton of high-quality flavor (not just salt, like the way cheaper sausages tend to taste). Also, in the past, the white meat from the poultry had a tendency to dry out, as it spent too long cooking. To compensate for this, I removed the chicken breasts, and only poached them for about 20 minutes when making the stock. This way, they were cooked through, but not overcooked. A bit fussy? Perhaps. But gumbo is a longer, more intricate dish anyway. Why not take one extra step to improve the flavor? This is optional, of course. If you decide to make this, you can totally leave the birds intact.
The result? It was a hit – again. We had a few family members over, and there wasn’t much left over. (Gumbo leftovers are divine when you take them for lunch – just saying.) Just the right amount of heat, deeply savory, and full of complex flavors from a long simmer and of course, that roux. Gumbo is a comfort food for sure; at least, in my book it is.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, adapted from Emeril Lagasse
3 small chickens (about 9-10 lbs total) – you can opt to cut them into quarters and remove the breast meat
10 cups water
2 medium-size yellow onions
2 ribs celery, cut into a few pieces
2 bay leaves
1 T salt
1 1/2 t cayenne powder
1 c vegetable oil
3/4 c sorghum flour
3/4 c sweet white rice flour (sweet white rice flour is much finer than regular flour, so no gritty texture)
2 c chopped yellow onions
1 c chopped bell pepper
1 c chopped celery
12 oz andouille sausage, cut into quarters lengthwise and sliced thinly
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into quarters lengthwise and sliced thinly
2 T chopped green onions
2 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
Steamed white rice for serving
Put the chicken (reserve the chicken breasts), water, quartered onions, celery pieces, bay leaves 1 tablespoon of the salt, and the cayenne in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, partially covered, until the chicken is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the breasts and continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Remove thechicken, strain and reserve the broth.
In a large, heavy pot or a Dutch oven, over medium heat, combine the oil and flours. Stirring slowly and constantly, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the chopped onions, bell peppers, chopped celery, and sausages. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are very soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the reserved broth and stir until the roux mixture and broth are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken and pick the meat off the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Coarsely chop the chicken meat. Add the chicken. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Skim off the fat that has risen to the surface with a spoon. Stir in the green onions and parsley and serve the gumbo in individual soup or gumbo bowls.