I’ve been thinking recently about things that get better with time – from men to fine wine, the age element can turn a pretty good thing into a really great thing.
When my friend Merissa sent me this recipe a year ago, she warned not to eat it the day you make it. She said it gets much better the second day. But after smelling it cook for four hours, could you resist? Merissa first made this for a large group a year ago (photo above). I made it for a couple of hungry bellies last weekend.
The recipe takes roughly 4-5 hours, but saying it’s worth it is an understatement. First, you brown 4 lbs. of chicken thighs and two kinds of pork, during which Grant said the house smelled like cracklins (and that’s no complaint!). Then, you stir a dark mahogany roux for 25 minutes (a task made easier with a glass of wine in hand) and add a ton of onion, garlic and celery hearts (I omitted the green bell pepper because I hate it). A dash of spice here and a crunch of pepper there and it will bubble away for the next 2.5-3 hours.
I did not add gumbo file, because I didn’t know it existed until afterward, but of course you can add this classic gumbo flavoring, if you have it.
Served over rice, or with some buttered toast, this is delectable. And that was just the first day. The second day, the sauce is thicker and richer – spicier, more peppery, better seasoned, and just generally more gumbo-looking.
I adapted this to my liking – feel free to improvise!
- 4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 lb. andouille sausage
- 1 lb. smoked ham
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 medium onions, chopped
- Heart of a celery cluster – small handful, chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 (32 -oz.) boxes chicken broth (less sodium)
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Hot cooked rice or cornbread
- Sliced green onions, for topping
1. Cut first 3 ingredients into bite-size pieces. In batches, place meat in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, 20 minutes or until browned. Drain on paper towels. (you really don’t need to if you skim off the fat the next day). Wipe out Dutch oven with paper towels.
2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat, gradually whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 25 minutes or until it is a dark mahogany.
3. Stir in onions, celery and garlic; cook, stirring often, 18 to 20 minutes or until tender. Gradually add broth. Stir in chicken, sausage, ham, thyme, black pepper and paprika.
4. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in parsley . Remove from heat; serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish with green onion.
I can promise you will enjoy this, friends! Especially the day after… xoxo
“I’ve been thinking recently about things that get better with time – from men to fine wine, the age element can turn a pretty good thing into a really great thing.”
“I did not add gumbo file, because I didn’t know it existed until afterward, but of course you can add this classic gumbo flavoring, if you have it.”
Sigh. I don’t have much to add to that statement, but that file is necessary. You need to ask my mom for her gumbo zeb recipe. Real gumbo, real good.
Cory, my mom said gumbo file is made from ground sassafras leaves, which is very intriguing…
Sassafras trees are another reason I love The South.
I just discovered on Wikipedia that sassafras roots (not the leaves used in file) contain a substance that is a precursor for MDMA (ecstasy)!
Sorry that my recipe didn’t include gumbo file. That was total oversight on my part as I know my mother always uses it, as any good southern lady would ; )