Dish Up a Bowl of Louisiana Gumbo – Talk About Good!

When I think of Louisiana, I think of New Orleans, Mardi Gras, trees draped in sphagnum moss, beignets coated in powdered sugar, and gumbo. In 2004, Louisiana declared gumbo the official state dish.

So, is gumbo Creole or Cajun? The answer is – both. The Creole version generally features shellfish and okra with tomatoes, while the Cajun version is typically made with chicken and andouille sausage and no tomatoes. This spicy dish is thought to have originated in Louisiana in the early 18th century and is named after the West African word for okra, but the heart of every gumbo is its roux – a blend of butter or oil and flour. It’s used as both a thickener and for flavor, which is enhanced the longer it cooks. When gently whisked over low heat until its color resembles melted milk chocolate or even mahogany, the earthy, toasty flavor it imparts to gumbo makes this dish so delectable.

Celery, green bell peppers, and onion are the “trinity” of Cajun and Creole cuisine. Each plays a role in gumbo’s flavor and texture. Because achieving its characteristic depth of flavor takes time, my Louisiana chicken and andouille gumbo recipe includes make-ahead elements such as chicken broth.

A blend of onion and garlic powders, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and paprika, plus several dashes of Tabasco, ensures plenty of spicy flavors. Celery, bell peppers, onion, and sliced okra cradle the spicy andouille sausage and shredded chicken. Served in a bowl over a bed of steamed white rice, this gumbo makes you sit up and take notice. As my college roommate liked to say, “Talk About Good!”

Louisiana Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Initial ingredients:

2 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs

1 skinless chicken breast

8 cups water

1 bay leaf

½ large onion, peeled and halved

1 stalk celery with leaves

1 carrot, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half crosswise

Directions: Place ingredients in a large stockpot, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming foam from the top of the liquid. Reduce heat to low, simmer 30 minutes, remove chicken, and reserve broth. 

Shred chicken into bite-size pieces and discard bones. Strain broth and set it aside, discarding cooked vegetables.

Gumbo ingredients:

1 cup canola oil, for roux

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons canola oil, for sauteing

2 large stalks celery, rinsed and sliced

2 large green bell peppers, rinsed, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 cup sweet onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced and sauteed

12-ounce package frozen okra, thawed

Directions: In a small bowl, stir together salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and paprika, and set  aside. In a medium skillet, whisk 1 cup oil and flour until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the roux turns the color of milk chocolate, about 20 to 25 minutes. Take care the roux doesn’t burn.

Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil, celery, peppers, and onion. Saute 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Stir in chicken. Sprinkle seasoning mix over the vegetables and chicken, toss well, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in 6 cups chicken broth and the roux. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in sausage and okra and several drops of Tabasco, if desired. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the gumbo thickens. If it’s too thick, add reserved broth a little at a time. Serve in large bowls over cooked rice.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

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Christy Rost

Public television chef Christy Rost is the author of three cookbooks and a longtime resident of the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. For additional recipes and entertaining tips, please visit or follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ChristyRost.

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