It’s Fat Tuesday: a perfect time to share and prepare one of my all-time favorite Southern dishes from New Orleans: gumbo!

This love affair has grown stronger every year as I have tinkered with the recipe, figured out what I wanted more of, what I wanted less of and how to get it just right. I’m fairly confident that THIS recipe nails it!

There are two more reasons why I think this recipe is the bomb. First, growing up, I was never a big fan of gumbo because I didn’t like shrimp swimming in my bowl (I like seafood, just not mixed into a tasty dish like this). When I discovered that you could make a chicken gumbo sans seafood, I was sold!

Second, the roux, that deep smoky base that is the signature ingredient for gumbo, always intimidated me. There are some Cajuns who swear by making a dark roux that takes up to an hour to prepare – and that’s an hour of continuous stirring! Talk about the measurement of a woman’s worth: her patience to stand at the stove and stir and stir and stir…

Well, I also discovered that you could make a blond roux and still have a fantastic gumbo. The blond roux cooks in less than 10 minutes. I was sold!

My husband and I have made gumbo the starring dish of our New Year’s feast (black-eyed peas for good luck and cabbage for money) for the past 17 years. I am happy to share the recipe with you here.

Now, it’s time to get back to Mardi Gras revelry . . . as they say down N’awlins way: “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!)

Chicken Gumbo

Ingredients
4 slices bacon, crumbled
6 T bacon drippings and/or olive oil
6 T flour
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 package frozen cut okra
6 c chicken broth
2 1/2 t Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
1 t cayenne pepper (I omit this if serving children)
4 cooked chicken breasts, diced
4 Andouille sausage links, sliced

Step 1: Prepare bacon & chicken

  
My favorite methods to prepare bacon and chicken:

Bacon: Line baking sheet with foil, arrange bacon on baking sheet in single layer and bake at 400 for 10-20 minutes (until desired degree of doneness). Crumble bacon into bits and reserve drippings for the roux.

Chicken: Rub chicken breasts in olive oil and season liberally with Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

Step 2: Make the roux, baby!

    
Measure bacon drippings (or olive oil, if you prefer) and add to bottom of stockpot. Heat over medium heat and add flour. Start stirring and stir constantly for 5-10 minutes, until roux takes on golden brown color.

Step 3: Sauté veggies

  
Add onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté until soft for 10 minutes.

Step 4: Add in yummy goodness!

    
Add tomatoes, okra, chicken stock, chicken, sausage and seasonings and simmer for 45 minutes (or longer if you want the flavors to mingle).

Bon appetit!

CHICKEN GUMBO

Ingredients:
4 slices bacon, crumbled
6 T bacon drippings or olive oil
6 T flour
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 package frozen cut okra
6 c chicken broth
2 1/2 t Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
1 t cayenne pepper (optional)
4 cooked chicken breasts, diced
4 Andouille sausage links, sliced


Directions:

  1. Prepare bacon. Crumble bacon into bits and reserve drippings.
  2. Measure bacon drippings and add to bottom of stockpot. Add enough olive oil to make it 6 T of oil + drippings in pot. Heat over medium heat and add flour. Start stirring and stir constantly for 5-10 minutes, until roux takes on golden brown color.
  3. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté for 10 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, okra, chicken stock, chicken, sausage and seasonings and simmer for 45 minutes.
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