During the days leading up to Mardi Gras, my beloved Create Network ran hours and hours of New Orleans-related cooking shows. I watched John Besh go out on a shrimp boat with one of his sons and use the shrimp boumty in several dishes in one of his restaurant kitchens, I learned the difference between Cajun and Creole, and I saw several versions of gumbo, jambalaya and Bananas Foster. What stuck in my mind, for some unknown reason, was Chef Paul Prudhomme making a chicken and smoked sausage gumbo. He said that his methods were unorthodox (which, I’ll admit, always attracts me), he explained the significance of roux prepared to different degrees of darkness, and he just seemed sort of like the Charlton Heston/God of Gumbo sitting in a chair in his white clothes, talking as he cooked something he had made millions of times. I made a mental note to make that gumbo after I returned from my vacation, and tonight, I did.
The original recipe is here, but I tweaked it enough that I am going to tell you what I actually did, rather than what I was supposed to do. (See “unorthodox,” above). I did not use bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, which I believe would give the dish more flavor, only because I didn’t want to deal with the step that required pulling the chicken off the bone. I also doubled the smoked sausage, just because the boys like it a lot. The original recipe also calls for purchased Prudhomme spice mixtures, and I found the recipe for the mixture and made my own. It also calls for andouille sausage, which I can get only by making a huge effort, so I used regular smoked sausage. If you come over, I’ll buy the real stuff.
Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each cut into 3-4 pieces
- 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Poultry Magic. the recipe to make your own is here.
- 1 cup finely diced onions
- 1 cup finely diced green bell peppers
- 3/4 cup finely diced celery
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1 pound smoked sausage, Andouille if you can get it, diced into ¼-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 2 cups hot cooked white rice
How to Prepare:
Sprinkle the chicken evenly with 2 tablespoons of the spice mix and rub it in well. Let stand at room temperature while you dice the vegetables.
Combine the onions, bell peppers and celery in a bowl and set aside.
Combine the remaining spice mix with the flour in a paper or plastic bag. Add the seasoned chicken pieces and shake until the chicken is well coated. Reserve ½ cup of the seasoned flour. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat until very hot (375°F to 400°F), about 6 to 7 minutes. Fry the chicken until the until brown on both sides and the meat is cooked, about 5 to 8 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Carefully pour the hot oil into a heatproof glass measuring cup, leaving some of the brown bits in the pan, then return ½ cup of the hot oil to the pan.
Return the pan to high heat and gradually whisk in the reserved ½ cup seasoned flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is dark red-brown, about 3½ to 4 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the vegetables, stirring constantly until the roux stops getting darker. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the pan bottom well, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the vegetable mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring between each addition until the roux is dissolved. Return to a boil, stirring and scraping the pan bottom often. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the sausage and garlic, and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring often toward the end of the cooking time.
When the gumbo has cooked for 45 minutes, stir in the chicken.
Serve immediately, over rice.