Last week at my MOPS meeting the ladies at my table and I got to talking about family holiday traditions. From sledding a Christmas tree home from a nearby nursery, to volunteering together, and eating and drinking aplenty, it was sweet hearing all the special traditions each family has incorporated into their holiday celebrations over the years.
I shared that, while Ben and I are still dreaming up the traditions we want Lincoln to grow up with, I have fond memories of candlelit Christmas Eve services, opening one present from a family member on Christmas Eve, and playing plenty of card games while eating my Dad’s gumbo on Christmas Day (pre-ham dinner, of course) when I was young.
I know what you might be thinking. Gumbo? in Iowa? Heck yeah! Despite having zero ties to the south – he’s lived in Iowa for 25+ years and hails from Ohio – my Dad’s been making gumbo for decades. What can I say, it’s his thing!
While I don’t know what fun holiday traditions the future holds for my little family I’m pumped that it could now include my own version of homemade gumbo – the Smoked Sausage and Chicken Gumbo I made for the gumbo cook off at Thanksgiving this year, and WON!
You guys, I want to shout this recipe from the rooftops – it is so dang delicious! If you’ve never had gumbo before then you are in for such a special treat.
Smoked Andouille sausage and tender shredded chicken combine in a full-flavored, Cajun spiced broth that becomes thick and glossy after simmering low and slow for over an hour. Scooped over fluffy white rice, no matter where you live you’ll feel like you’re in the French Quarter at a restaurant older than you are while enjoying a big bowl of this perfectly spicy gumbo. Ice cold Abita on the side, naturally, if only in your imagination.
That said, I based this recipe on the gumbos I’ve enjoyed on my travels down south to New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah, where I ordered gumbo nearly as often as I ordered Shrimp and Grits. What can I say, a good gumbo speaks to my soul.
Whether you’re a seasoned gumbo eater, or new to the dish, promise me you’ll try this easy Smoked Sausage and Chicken Gumbo made with simple ingredients sometimes in the next couple of weeks, if not then definitely sometime this winter. Rich, hearty, and warming, it’ll keep you cozy on the coldest of winter nights.
Start by browning 14oz Andouille sausage in 1 teaspoon grapeseed or vegetable oil in a 6+ quart Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Andouille sausage is similar to kielbasa, and is so, so delicious. It’s smoked, a touch spicy, and comes pre-cooked. All you need to do is slice then sear it up until golden-brown and sizzling.
I used Johnsonville brand which is both gluten and dairy-free. You can usually find them by the hot dogs at the grocery store.
Scoop the sausage onto a plate then set aside. Next season 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning on both sides. Place the thighs into the Dutch oven skin-side down then sear for 3-4 minute a side. They don’t have to be cooked through at this point. Not only do chicken thighs become fall apart-tender in this gumbo but they’re half the price of chicken breasts. I got an entire, 1-1/4lb package for $2.99!
Here’s the Cajun seasoning I used on the chicken thighs, by the way. We’ll also use it in a bit to season the gumbo as a whole. The blend of spices is perfect – I have, cough, three of these little canisters in my spice cupboard right now. Obsessed!
Transfer the seared chicken thighs to the same plate as the sausage then set aside.
Now it’s time to make the roux, which will thicken and flavor the gumbo. First though, take the Dutch oven off the heat to cool for a couple minutes. The roux is made from oil and flour and since the Dutch oven retains heat very well, we don’t want it to burn the roux.
After a couple minutes, return the Dutch oven to the burner over medium heat then add 3 Tablespoons oil and sprinkle in 6 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour (I use white rice flour – my favorite GF flour for thickening sauces and soups.) Whisk constantly for the next 10-15 minutes until the roux has turned the color of caramel. Many gumbo recipes call for cooking the roux until it’s dark brown but I also like the flavor of a lighter roux (plus it takes less time to get there!)
Next add 1 chopped green bell pepper, 2 chopped celery stalks, and 1 chopped large shallot then saute until the vegetables are slightly tender, 5 minutes. I like using a wooden spoon with a flat edge to make sure the roux isn’t sticking to the bottom of the Dutch oven.
Finally, add 2 Tablespoons tomato paste and 2 minced garlic cloves then saute for 1 more minute. I always keep extra tomato paste frozen in 2 Tablespoon segments in a plastic baggie. So easy to snap off a segment then throw it in the pot!
Next add a couple big glugs of low sodium chicken broth then start scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven to loosen any bits. Just keep adding glugs and scraping.
Add the remaining chicken broth from 56oz total (7 cups) then add 2 bay leaves and a few spices including 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon (or more or less) cayenne pepper. Add the sausage and chicken back into the Dutch oven, turn the heat up to high to bring the gumbo to a boil, and then turn the heat back down to medium and simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 hours, occasionally skimming off the fat that raises to the top.
At this point your gumbo should be thick, rich, and luxurious – oh man!! Remove and discard the bay leaves, then take the chicken thighs out and discard the bones and skin. Shred the meat then add it back into the gumbo and stir to combine.
Scoop the gumbo over cooked white rice then devour!
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Smoked Sausage and Chicken Gumbo (Gluten-Free)
Smoked Sausage and Chicken Gumbo is a classic taste of the south. This gluten-free recipe won me first prize at a family gumbo cook off!
- 3 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
- 14oz Andouille sausage, sliced into half moons
- 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1-1/4lb)
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 6 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour (I used white rice flour)
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 small celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large shallot or 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 56oz low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less, optional)
- Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 6+ quart Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage then saute until browned, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate then set aside. Season both sides of chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning then place skin side down in Dutch oven. Sear on both sides until golden brown, 3-4 minutes a side (does not need to be cooked through,) then transfer to plate with sausage and set aside.
- Remove Dutch oven from heat for a few minutes to cool slightly then place back over medium heat. Add remaining 3 Tablespoons oil then sprinkle in flour and whisk constantly until mixture is the color of caramel, 10-15 minutes (this is your roux.) Add bell pepper, celery, and shallot or onion then saute until vegetables are slightly tender, 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven often with a wooden spoon to make sure roux doesn't burn. Add garlic and tomato paste then saute for one more minute.
- Add a couple big glugs of chicken broth at a time to the Dutch oven, using the wooden spoon to scrape up any bits on the bottom. Add remaining chicken broth, remaining 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, sauteed sausage and chicken thighs then turn heat up to bring gumbo to a boil. Turn heat down to medium then simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 hours, occasionally skimming off the fat that rises to the top.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board then remove and discard skin and bones. Shred chicken then add back into the gumbo. Remove bay leaves then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over cooked white rice.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
This recipe has got to be one of my favorites. Between the smoky Andouille sausage, buttery shredded chicken, and warming Cajun spices, this gumbo is packed to the max with flavor. Such a winner – enjoy!