Gumbo is one of those dishes you can spend an entire afternoon preparing. If you’re going to go whole hog and do it the authentic way, you’ll need to prepare a dark, rich roux that takes a lot of standing and stirring.
But the great thing about gumbo is that even if you cheat and do a quickie version, it still turns out pretty tasty. With the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun and Creole cuisine – onions, bell pepper and celery – along with ingredients such as andouille sausage, tomatoes, chicken broth, and shrimp, it’s darned near impossible to end up with a bland and boring meal. Bonus: This is a bit healthier.
Over the weekend, I tested an easy weeknight gumbo recipe that earned a thumbs up from my judge. As long as you’re departing from tradition and skipping the roux, you might as well tweak this recipe in other ways that satisfy your crowd, as well. For example, skip the okra and throw in some corn or other leftover veggies. Or, if you’re on a tight budget, skip the shrimp. Just be aware that okra is a thickener, so if you do not use it and want thicker gumbo, you may wish to use a little cornstarch slurry.
Click “Read More” to see the recipe.
Finally, a reader emailed me over the weekend with the following question. I don’t have an answer but hope that someone reading this might:
“I was recently back in my birthplace, Philadelphia, and realized that the ONLY thing Roanoke doesn’t have that I wish they would was a good, old-fashioned diner that serves scrapple. Do you know of anywhere in the Roanoke Area (I’m even willing to drive a little) that serves scrapple?”
If you’d prefer to serve your gumbo over rice instead of adding it to the pot, feel free to do so. It won’t hurt this recipe.
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb. andouille sausage
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 large bell pepper (any color), diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more, to taste, or add hot sauce at the end)
3 cans chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup brown rice, uncooked
1/2 bag frozen okra
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1. Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute chicken and sausage until browned (you may need to do this in batches if your pot isn’t big enough). Set aside.
2. In the drippings, saute onions, bell pepper and celery until nearly tender. Add garlic, marjoram, thyme and cayenne (if using) and saute a couple of minutes more. Do not let it burn.
3. Add chicken broth and stir, scraping up any bits of browned food stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add tomatoes, okra and rice and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes or until rice is cooked.
4. At this stage, you can continue to simmer the gumbo longer if you’d like the chicken more tender. But do not add the shrimp until about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. They don’t take long to cook and you don’t want them to be overdone.