Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Gumbo

A year and a half ago, I visited New Orleans for the first time.  It was the last stop on a two-month-long road trip—and was one of the most memorable.  The city has such a distinct sense of identity and has held on tightly to their culture and traditions.  While other cities show the stress of modernization, New Orleans continues to remember its past and exude its unchanged Louisiana-charm.

We spent most of our time in the French quarter, where the architecture took me straight back to Paris.  The narrow streets are lined with tiny, independently-owned shops, many filled with antique furniture and jewelry.  For the most part, the restaurants are also independently owned, sharing their own takes on traditional Creole/Cajun cuisine and seafood dishes.  Between the mountains of raw and charbroiled oysters, po-boys, etouffees, and jambalayas, we never went hungry (and most often went to bed uncomfortably full).

One dish I truly learned to love while in New Orleans was gumbo.  Before visiting NOLA, I had little appreciation for this Cajun dish.  I honestly thought its dark-brown broth was a little off-putting, but little did I know that the brown hue gave this dish its rich flavor.  The dark roux (the cooked oil and flour) creates the base for this tasty stew, and taking the time to really caramelize the vegetables (i.e., the Cajun “holy trinity”:  bell peppers, onions, and celery) increases its depth of flavor.

This rendition of the traditional Cajun gumbo is as close to New Orleans as I will come for awhile.  It is both delicious and hearty.  It would make a great dinner for two (like it did for my husband Brandon and I) or can easily be quadrupled (see the original Epicurious.com recipe) for entertaining.  It is one of those recipes where it is important to have all of your ingredients prepared and on-hand, and most importantly, when stirring the roux, do not answer the telephone.  It will burn in a second.


Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Gumbo
(Adapted from Epicurious.com)
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 12-ounce package andouille sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces sliced frozen okra
  • 1 pound peeled deveined medium shrimp
  • Minced fresh Italian parsley
  • Steamed rice

Directions:

Heat oil in heavy 8-quart pot over medium-high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark reddish brown, about 5 minutes.

The reddish-brown roux

Add chopped onions, chopped bell peppers, and chopped celery and cook until onions are soft and brown, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and stir 2 minutes.

Adding the onions, peppers, and celery

After 20 minutes

Add wine, thyme, and bay leaves; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes with juice, clam juice, broth, sausage, and chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Add okra and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

**Do ahead Gumbo base can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring base to simmer before continuing.

The base

Add shrimp to pot and cook shrimp until just opaque in center, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Generously season with kosher salt.

Finished gumbo

Ladle gumbo into bowls.  Top with a spoonful of steamed rice and parsley for garnish.  Serves 4.

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