Gumbo and All that Jazz

PUBLISHED ON: 03.03.2023

Do you remember a moment when you enjoyed a meal prepared by a friend, and you knew it would not be a “one-off” dish? You would return to this dish repeatedly. You make it so often now, you have adapted your steps, and you can with ease walk through the ingredients and the preparation in your head. The recipe has become your “go to” on a Sunday afternoon or any occasion with a gathering of friends.

Preparing Gumbo is never random, it’s always planned, and it is a commitment to the process. You never eat gumbo alone. Invites go out on Saturday and dinner is on Sunday. You begin prepping on Saturday-gathering the ingredients, enjoying the soothing feeling that comes from chopping vegetables, browning meat, and making the dark roux. It’s inevitable this soul soothing process is happening with jazz music playing in the background, and an open can of beer on the counter. This is all good, in fact, it is fantastic.

Gumbo by its very nature is complicated but, it is soulful. A one pot meal whose history is steeped in West African and French roots. Versions of gumbo have been made for over 300 years, and it was always meant to be shared.

This is my son’s recipe. He makes this recipe often and the story above is my translation of conversations with him of the genesis of his gumbo recipe.

Bailey’s Gumbo Recipe


1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Peanut Oil

4-5 celery stalks (include leaves), diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves
12 ounces good quality Andouille Sausage, sliced into rounds
1 lb boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and pepper
8 cups No Sodium Chicken Stock
1/2 -1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
Salt and black pepper to taste
Gumbo Filé Powder (optional)
** Jasmine rice for serving


Make the Roux:
In a large heavy bottom stock pot or Dutch Oven, heat oil on medium heat until oil is shimmering (tip: the oil is hot enough when a tiny bit of flour bubbles and dissolves quickly). Gradually, add flour while continuously whisking (approximately 20 minutes) until the roux reaches a milk chocolate color, and the texture is similar to wet sand. You will want to add more flour if the roux appears runny, and more oil if the roux is too thick.

Add Ingredients:
Add the onion, celery, and green bell pepper to the roux, and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes. Add chicken stock, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and cayenne pepper (will need to adjust to taste). Let the chicken stock come to a boil then reduce to simmer (note: the gumbo may taste bitter at this stage). The gumbo will simmer 2-3 hours.

Sear Proteins
In a separate large skillet brown your chicken thighs on both sides. Set aside. Brown your sausage rounds, set aside. Add your chicken to the simmering stock halfway through the cooking time. Add your sausage rounds to the simmering stock 30 minutes before finishing.

Skimming Soup and adding spices– While your gumbo is simmering, you will want to skim the white foam and additional oil from the top (Note: After simmering and skimming for approximately 2 hours, the gumbo will reach a homogeneous color). During this time you will want to add your Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste. *Remember, to add each spice in small amounts, and bring to taste (Note: As the stock reduces the salt level will increase).

To  Serve:  Place a generous dollop of rice in the center of the bowl and ladle the gumbo around the rice. Top gumbo with green onions and a pinch gumbo filé powder.

Wine Pairing: 2021 Brokenwood, Semillon, Hunter Valley, Australia







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