Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Soups don’t get much heartier—or tastier—than gumbo. The ingredients are common but the flavor is wonderfully complex. Why? The roux. A simple mixture of vegetable oil and flour cooked slowly is the key. The roux darkens as it cooks and becomes a rich, thick base for all the other ingredients.

Note: Authentic Louisiana gumbo has a very dark—think dark chocolate—roux that can take one to two hours to cook, depending on quantity. A shorter time means a lighter roux—from golden peanut butter color to milk chocolate and variations in between. For this recipe, I kept it simple: a golden roux that cooks in less than 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the addition of chicken broth will lighten (in color) the overall stew, no matter how dark the roux is initially.

You’ve heard of filé gumbo, but not all gumbos include this powder made from ground or pounded sassafras leaves. It’s used to thicken the soup at the end of cooking (or passed around the table once the soup is served), but okra is also commonly used as a thickener. Use only one or the other—not both.

Here, I stirred in a little filé (off heat) after the gumbo was cooked, and passed more at the table for guests who wanted an even thicker consistency. The key is to try to find the best filé powder you can. It should have a deep sage-green color, not murky brown like some products on the market.

Another note: If you’re making enough gumbo to have leftover, don’t add filé to the entire pot after cooking. The powder doesn’t cook well and may become stringy when the dish is reheated. Simply allow your guests to sprinkle it on at the table, then add it to the leftover gumbo after heating.

And a final note: There are several differences between gumbo and jambalaya, but the most obvious have to do with the rice and consistency of the dish. Gumbo is a slightly thick soup—or stew—that’s ladled over already cooked rice. Jambalaya is more of a casserole in which the rice is cooked along with the other ingredients for a very thick consistency. (Compare it to Spanish paella.)

Serves 4-5

  • 2 tbsp plus 1/3 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 lb andouille sausage(s), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • hot, cooked white rice, for serving
  • 1/2 tsp filé powder, plus more for serving
Andouille and Chicken Thighs 
Vegetables and Fresh Parsley
  1. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Cook, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 5 minutes. Turn and cook, undisturbed, until browned on the other side, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. (Remove any large browned bits from the bottom of the pot.)
  2. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of oil. Add the andouille and cook 5 minutes, stirring several times. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage pieces to a plate.
Chicken Beginning to Cook 
Chicken after Turning
Andouille Beginning to Cook
Remove with a Slotted Spoon
  1. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gradually stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring constantly, until a golden roux forms, about 25 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth 1 cup at a time, stirring to combine. Add the reserved chicken thighs, andouille, bay leaf, and oregano and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender, 1-1/2 hours.
  5. Remove the bay leaf. Transfer the chicken thighs to a cutting board. (Reduce the heat under the gumbo to low.)
  6. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred (discard the bones). Return the shredded chicken to the pot and stir in the scallions and parsley. Cook 5 minutes, until hot throughout.
  7. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of filé powder. Stir to combine.
Roux Beginning to Cook
Cooked Roux
Onion, Bell Pepper, and Celery Added
Broth Added 
Chicken and Andouille Returned
Shredded Chicken Returned
Scallion and Parsley Stirred In 
File Stirred In
To serve, mound rice in the middle of shallow bowls and spoon gumbo over and around the rice. Pass the filé powder at the table and let guests help themselves to more, if desired.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

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