Sunday, February 10, 2013


You certainly don't need Mardi Gras as an excuse to dive into some spicy gumbo, but what a great excuse?  Even if you aren't in New Orleans to celebrate, this recipe will add some spice to your week.  After dozens of run throughs, we've decided this version is the best for at home preparation. The recipe is adapted from  Mr. B's famous Gumbo Ya Ya.  One of our favorite days in the Quarter starts off with this delish dish followed by bib required Barbequed Shrimp.  (Finger-licking redefined).

Gumbo Ya Ya 
Yield: 3 quarts 
  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or brown flour if you have it)
  • 1 trinity mix (pre-chopped bell pepper, onion and celery)
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning (Emeril's or the like)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic (sometimes it is included in the trinity mix)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 lb. andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices (my favorite is actually Conecuh sausage from Alabama) 
  • Meat from 1 rotisserie chicken
  • salt to tast (I don't add any if I use salted butter)
  • hot sauce to taste
  • boiled rice as accompaniment

Fry sausage in a skillet on medium high heat until browned.  Set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.  (We do this to remove fat instead of having to skim it off of the gumbo. Also, I like the crispy texture it gives the sausage).  

In a large stockpot (I use my biggest Le Creuset) melt butter over medium-low heat.  Gradually add a third of the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add a third more flour and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add remaining third of flour and stir constantly 30 seconds. Continue to cook roux, stirring constantly, until it is the color of dark mahogany, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.* (If using brown flour, just add all of the flour directly to the melted butter and stir for 5 minutes - huge time saver!!) 

Add trinity mix and garlic and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add the stock to roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add all remaining ingredients except chicken, rice, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer gumbo, uncovered, 45 minutes (although the longer the better, sometimes we let it cook on low all day).  Add chicken and simmer 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with hot sauce. Serve over rice. OR omit rice and serve with crusty French bread.  OR serve over rice WITH crusty French bread.  Options are endless.  Get creative.  

*Making the roux with brown flour:  we could do an entire blog post on this topic but in the spirit of brevity, I'll stick to the high points.   New Orleanians like their roux rich and dark.  To reach this perfect mahogany color requires stirring white flour and butter for 45 minutes on the perfect low to medium temp.  It's hard.  We've had to throw it out after stirring for 44 minutes.  If you see any dark speckles, it's all over.  The key to making this dark roux is to use brown flour.  My mother-in-law makes her own (John Folse's techinque here under "Oil-less Roux") but living in Louisiana you can easily find browned flour at any grocery store.  We use Kary's Dry Roux, which can be purchased here.  We've made it both ways with white flour and Kary's and cannot detect a difference.

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!! 

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