Gumbo is one of the signature dishes of the Cajun people...from Chicken and Sausage to Seafood to Wild Game!! About 5 years ago, my son-in-law asked if we would cook our gumbo, in his booth, for the New Iberia, LA World Famous Gumbo Cook-Off (held in October each year). Huey agreed, and we were so honored when we won 1st Place!!! We were surprised when local chef's asked what our secret was...and could we share our recipe with them!! We did share the recipe, with the omission of 1 ingredient, which by the way, is included in this recipe, so this is the COMPLETE recipe!! Bon Apetite!!
To a 10-12 quart pot, add water and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
In the meantime, prepare the vegetables, meat, and cook the roux. (It is much easier to achieve this faster if working with a partner. Huey gets the water going and chops the veggies, while I cook the roux!!)
Prepare the vegetables. Remove the outer skins of 2 yellow onions, rinse, core and remove seeds of 1 bell pepper, rinse 4 stalks of celery, slice into chunks and place in food processor and chop very fine. Set aside.
If the hen is already cut into pieces, simple rinse to remove bone fragments and debris. (For this recipe, I used half of a 12 lb hen.) Be sure to use all of the bones to ensure getting maximum flavor!!!)
I like to cut the breast meat into cubes prior to cooking, so that as soon as the gumbo is cooked, I can enjoy it immediately ... free of bones.
Set hen pieces aside.
We prefer using fresh pork sausage for this gumbo to achieve just the perfect balance of flavors. You should be able to taste the sausage and the chicken, without one flavor over-powering the other!!! If you have a very keen palate, you can probably taste the other ingredients, as well.
Often, I remove the casings by making a slice down the sausage and it comes off easily, or just remove after it's sliced .... and sometimes, I just leave it on!!!
Slice frozen sausage into 1/2 inch pieces. (It is much easier to slice the sausage if at least partially frozen.)
In a large skillet (black iron, preferred), add 2 cups each of all purpose flour and vegetable oil. (If you are experienced in making roux, you can reduce the oil to 1 1/2 cups to 1 3/4 cups, however, it is a little harder to get the roux dark enough without burning. The additional oil makes the mixture thinner, and therefore, easier to manage.)
Cook on HIGH fire, STIRRING CONSTANTLY (with a long handled metal or wooden spoon, one that is blunt on the end works best), until it reaches a medium brown (peanut butter) color.
Reduce the heat to MEDIUM and continue cooking and STIRRING until it reaches a dark brown.
Reduce the heat to MEDIUM LOW, or LOW, and continue STIRRING CONSTANTLY until it reaches an almost black color, but not burned. At this point, the oil will begin to separate and will create a glossy appearance. Turn fire off.
Immediately, add roux to boiling water, one spoonful at a time, stirring and scraping bottom of pot to prevent sticking and burning, after each addition. Use ALL of the roux!!!
Reduce fire, as this can QUICKLY boil over!!!
Add bay leaves and garlic. Cover with lid, leaving a slight opening. Bring to a boil. Keep a CLOSE eye on it, because, once it starts to boil, the liquid climbs quickly, and the pot will boil over!!!! If this happens, turn fire off, and remove the lid, briefly, then return heat to medium-low or low to maintain a low boil.
Add chopped celery, bell pepper, and onions. Bring back to a rolling boil. DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE POT FOR MORE THAN 15 SECONDS!!!!!! Once boiling, reduce heat to a low boil. When the FOAMING STOPS, stir in Tony's Seasoning and Accent. Bring back to a low boil. (Accent blends and enhances the flavors and makes today's gumbo taste like tomorrow's gumbo .... rich and full of flavor!!!
Add hen pieces and sliced sausage. Return mixture to a boil, lower heat to medium or low (very low boil), and cook mixture 1 1/2 hours, covered.
Remove oil from the surface of the gumbo and discard. (You may have to do this 2 or three times).
Taste test, and add additional seasonings, if needed, or if it has cooked down too much and the mixture begins to thicken, add additional HOT water.)
Prior to serving, add 1 bundle of finely sliced green onion tops and dried parsley flakes. Simmer for 15 minutes.
You can actually serve after 1 1/2 hours.
If you are not in a hurry to eat, remove the bone-in chicken pieces, allow to cool slightly, de-bone, slice into bite-size pieces, and return to the pot. The gumbo can be simmered up to 3 hours, but you may need to add additional HOT water to thin the mixture. Remove bay leaves prior to serving.
Serve with short-grain rice, as it absorbs the liquid better than long grain rice, (I use Mahatma) and Garlic Parsley Croutons, and a plain mustard potato salad. (Since the gumbo is soo flavorful, the plain potato salad compliments the flavors without competing!!) These foods can be prepared while the gumbo is cooking. I will be posting these recipes, also.