How to Make a “Sassy” Gumbo – written by The Sassy Kitchen
About three years ago I ordered crawfish and had them shipped from Louisiana to California. My plan was to have a little crawfish boil and make a nice pot of seafood gumbo. As it turns out, one of my guests had a shellfish allergy. Naturally I panicked a bit. Then I decided to research chicken and sausage gumbo. I had never made it before but as with everything I have ever cooked, at one time or another; I had never made it before.
I found a few recipes I liked and I took pieces of each of those that I liked and created my own. I decided to add more meat and incorporate more than just plain chicken and sausage, change-up some seasonings, etc.
This gumbo was such a hit that I now have “Gumbo Parties” a couple of times a year. Depending on what I can get my hands on, the meats always change a bit but my basic recipe remains the same.
My basic recipe changed a bit last week when my friend Cynthia Cosco, who happens to be a winemaker, asked if I would try out some of her wines with some of my recipes. Now, for those that don’t know me, this was such an honor and I probably did actually squeal out loud a bit when she asked if I’d be interested in doing this. A few weeks later I met Cynthia at her tasting room and after trying several wines that she will be bottling soon, I left the tasting room with 4 bottles. In my handy wine tote, I had one bottle of each of these wonderful wines:
2012 Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio
2011 Passaggio New Generation Unoaked Chardonnay
2011 Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven Napa Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
I began by opening the Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay. I opened the bottles, poured myself a little of each and without food, I sipped them both. Back and forth, back and forth. Stopping, thinking, sipping, stopping… This went on for a while.
I had enjoyed Cynthia’s wines with my gumbo but hadn’t ever incorporated them into my recipe. Honestly, this still wasn’t the plan but in the flash with a glass in my hand, it changed. I must say, it was a tiny flash of brilliance. We’ve all had them. That flash where you’re drinking and cooking and think to yourself “I wonder what will happen if….” and while you’re still really in mid-thought, you pour your glass of wine into the pot. That’s exactly how it happened and it was a good thing!
Now it’s time to MAKE THE GUMBO! READY?
2 Pounds Smoked Sausage. Sliced about 1/4 inch thick. I mix it up. This time I used 1/2 pound Andouille, 1/2 Pound Pork Smoked Sausage and 1 Pound Turkey, Beef and Pork Smoked Sausage. I prefer the pork sausages and have also used pork and alligator sausage in the past.
4 Pounds Chicken Thighs. On the bone, skin and excess fat removed.
1 Pound Alligator Nuggets. You can add more chicken if you’d prefer. I had it so I used it. I have also used Alligator Legs.
1 1/4 Cups Chopped White Onion
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Yellow Onion
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Bell Pepper
1 1/4 Cups Chopped Celery
10 to 12 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Flour (a bit more just in case)
3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil.
1/2 Cup Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
4 to 6 Bay Leaves. Personal preference to your liking
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cajun Seasoning Blend – I use Emeril’s Essence. It’s ALL IN THERE! BAM!!!
1 Cup Chopped Green Onion
1/3 Cup Chopped Parsley
4 Cups Cooked White Rice. Cook as desired. I keep this simple and cook the rice in water or chicken stock with a touch of butter and 1 bay leaf per cup of uncooked rice.
I HIGHLY recommend having everything prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. Once you start, it needs to be a smooth progression so that you don’t lose your flavors by having to stop and start, etc. The green onion, parsley and rice can wait a bit. You’ll have a few hours of idle time to do this.
Season chicken thighs liberally on both sides with your chosen Cajun seasoning blend and set aside for now.
Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil to a large stock pot and bring up temperature over medium to medium high heat. Working in batches, brown the sausage. Some will be crispy looking and some just a little cooked. Set on paper towel lined plate to drain.
Once you have browned all the sausage, once again working in batches, brown the chicken thighs on both sides. You’re not trying to cook it, just sear it. Set it aside to cool a bit then put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready for it.
Next, reduce heat to medium and de-glaze that stock pot with the Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio and then slowly add about half of the flour. Cook while stirring for a few minutes and then add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil, stir and slowly add the remaining flour and another 1/4 cup oil (alternating) until you have a thick reddish-brown roux. Keep stirring for about 20 minutes. When you’re not using the wine, the roux goes from white to a chocolate-brown. When using the wine, it starts out a bit reddish-brown so it’s harder to tell what is happening. You still want to be sure that you are cooking the roux to coax out those incredible flavors that only a homemade roux will give you.
When the roux is ready, add the celery, peppers and onions. Stir well and get them all coated and gooey with the roux. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the cayenne, salt and pepper and then slowly add stock. Add the stock a little at a time while stirring. Adding it slowly keeps your roux from clumping like bad gravy. Once its loose and liquid, you can add the stock a bit faster and toss in the bay leaf. Add 10 cups and up to 12 depending on the size of your pot and the consistency you want. You can add 10 now and the remaining 2 later if you’d like.
Add sausage and simmer for 1 hour.
Add Chicken and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add Alligator and simmer for 1 more hour.
Using slotted spoon, remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool slightly. Remove chicken from the bone and chop or shred then return to pot and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning. Be careful. The flavors will continue to develop and it’s always easy to add salt and pepper later but removing it…. not so much.
Add the parsley, and about a Tbsp of Filé powder. Stir again.
Scoop desired amount of rice into a bowl, pour hot gumbo over the rice and top with chopped green onion. Serve with hot sauce and Filé powder on the table. Sometimes a couple shakes of each add a nice touch. **
Serve with a well chilled glass of Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio.
**I make my gumbo one to two days in advance. It keeps well and the “sitting” time really let’s those flavors “Do Their Thing”.