Papa Bud’s Gumbo


 

Chicken Andouille Gumbo

Several years after we were married, my father-in-law H.T. “Bud” Lewis,  entrusted me with his version of the Louisiana staple, chicken andouille gumbo.  This ain’t your fancy-schmancy many ingredient type gumbo - it’s your born & raised in small town Louisiana type gumbo. Very few ingredients. He told me that the only two secrets to a great pot of gumbo are:  don’t burn your roux and get your andouille from Jacobs because the sausage is where all the flavor comes from. Grocery store andouille just doesn't cut it.   

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (some in the family insist on using a hen)
1 large onion diced
1 stick of andouille from Jacobs sliced in poker chip size pieces.
1/2 cup of crisco shortening
3/4 cup of all purpose flour

Directions:
Put a washed, trimmed chicken in a large pot & cover with salted water.
Boil until done, then remove to a sheet pan to cool.  
Set pot with remaining water/stock aside.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, debone & shred into bite sized chunks.  Set aside.  Discard the bones and skin and weird junk.

Next -and this is important because things move fast from here on out - prep & measure the rest of your ingredients.  

Over medium/high heat melt the shortening in a high sided cast iron pan (Wagner #8 works for me) then add about 1/2 cup of flour.  Stir the mixture constantly.   Initially, you are looking for the consistency of runny peanut butter like you’d get at the health food store.  If it’s too runny, slowly add the remaining flour until it thickens.  It will thicken as you cook too, so be careful not to add too much.  Too thick, add a little more shortening.  It’s not the end of the world.  Stir like a maniac to keep it from burning but get it as dark brown as you are brave enough to go.  Something like Pantone 725U.  

As soon as it’s as brown as you’re willing to risk it, turn off the heat & stir in your onions to cool it off a bit, add your sliced andouille and stir it around. 

Dump everything into your pot of chicken water, dip some out & swish it around in the cast iron pan to get all of the roux then dump that into the pot, too.  Let it simmer & thicken for a while. No firm rule here, but probably around 30 minutes will do.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. 

About 30 minutes or so before you want to eat, add your boiled chicken.  Also, right before serving, spoon off any grease/fat on the surface and salt to taste.  Serve over rice with a nice slice of french bread. Filé powder optional.

I can’t tell you how much it makes since the chicken & sausage vary in size.  It does freeze well though & like most soups, it tastes better the next day.  

tip:  I don’t eat the sausage skin & sometimes I peel it off before slicing, but that’s up to you.  The casing probably adds some good smokey flavor.