Chicken Andouille Gumbo

If you ever questioned my devotion to Pestle Mortar, the fact that I stood over a stove on a brilliantly sunny 88 degree day making the perfect roux for gumbo should quash all doubts.  Why I felt the need to make gumbo on a brilliantly sunny 88 degree day is another question all together.

Last year, a couple of friends and I went to New Orleans for a weekend.  It was a grand plan that came at a time when I desperately needed distraction from every day life.  L, C and I were newish friends–we had hung out a bit in Chicago, but had never spent a concentrated amount of time together.   We figured there’s nothing quite like open container laws and beignets to bring people together, so we headed down (L’s brother met us there) and prepared for shenanigans.  L and I flew together on the first flight out, where we promptly ordered bloody mary’s and plotted our course.  The last time I’d been to NOLA, I was at a conference and didn’t have a chance to do much gallivanting.  L had been a few times before and declared that we needed to hit Galatoires, Napoleon House, Jacques-Imo’s and the Old Absinthe House.  My only request was to add the Gumbo Shop to the list.  I’d been the last time I was in the city and I needed a quick fix of gumbo to start the trip off right (and I wanted someone else to cook it).

Our hotel was just off Bourbon Street and we decided we’d walk to the restaurant, stopping for frozen Hurricanes on the way.  Two sips into my drink, we ran into one of my exes.  Not that bad. With his girlfriend. Also not bad, since we hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in four or five years. The girlfriend? The WOMAN WHO INTRODUCED US. Really now?  Needless to say that I drank that first Hurricane a little faster than necessary (brain freeze be damned).

Don’t worry–it was all uphill from there.  We arrived at the Gumbo Shop after the lunch rush and had the most adorable server ever to come from the Bayou.  He was likely hired for his accent, which was enough to make me swoon and forget that I was there to eat, not flirt (although a combination of the two is never really a bad thing).  

The gumbo, which is just the right amount of spice and comfort was the perfect way to fuel ourselves for 36 hours of running wild.

Lunch was followed by drinks at Napoleon House, which was followed by dinner at Gallitoires, followed by drinks at …. and then…. and finally ending at Old Absinthe (the ellipses represent my lapse in memory.  All I know is that I was never without a tasty drink for long). 

The next day, after breakfast at Cafe du Monde and very strong cocktails at Pat O’Brien’s, we headed to Jacques-Imo’s for dinner, where I was convinced to taste alligator cheesecake.  Um… yeah. I’d skip that on your next trip, ok? Rather than taking you on a tour of our borderline debauchery, let’s just sum it up by saying that we were in a bar listening to music and noticed that there was a lovely scent of s’mores in the air.  5 minutes later, we realized THE BAR WAS ON FIRE (fear not, we made sure to get to-go cups).  The night ended when I was dared to ride a mechanical bull.  Not enough purell in the world, my friends.

There are many lovely things about NOLA, not least of which are the people and the sights, but the food! The food could bring you to your knees.  If you can’t make it down there for a little Bayou fun anytime soon, cozy up with a bowl of this gumbo.  You’re on your own for the Hurricanes and bull rides, though…

 Chicken Andouille Gumbo courtesy of the Gumbo Shop Cookbook

  • 1 chicken, 2-2 1/2 pounds
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 pounds fresh or frozen okra, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 16 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 pound Andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Cut chicken into eight pieces, cover with water and simmer for about one hour until chicken is tender and easily removed from the bones.  Pour off stock and set aside.  Allow chicken to cool, remove from bones and set aside.

In a large heavy skillet saute the okra in 2 tablespoons oil for about 10 to 15 minutes or until all “ropiness” is gone.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven, heat 1/2  cup oil over medium high heat.  Add the four and make a dark brown roux.  As soon as the proper color is achieved, add the onions, bell pepper and celery and saute, stirring occasionally until tender.  During this process, allow the vegetables to stick to the bottom of the pan a bit, then scrape the bottom with a metal spoon or spatula.  This allows some of the natural sugars in the onions to caramelize, rendering greate depth of flavor.

When the vegetables are tender, add the tomatoes, Andouille sausage and sauteed okra.  Continue cooking and stirring for about 15 minutes.  Add the bay leaf, thyme, basil, sage, peppers and salt and mix well.  Pour in about 8 cups of the chicken stock, bring to a slow boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Add the cooked chicken and additional stock if necessary and simmer for 15 minutes.  Adjust seasoning and serve in large bowls over steamed rice.


One Response to Chicken Andouille Gumbo

  1. Pingback: Lamb Burgers « Pestle Mortar

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