Once aspect of my identity that isn’t readily apparent to new acquaintances is that I’m a native of the state of Louisiana. I have red hair from my paternal Irish grandmother. The Welsch and Irish accents of my paternal grandfather and grandmother respectively seem to effectively cancel out the Cajun French accent of my maternal grandparents. I’m a far cry from what someone might expect of a Louisianian if their basis for comparison is comprised of programs like Swamp People. That said, I value my Cajun heritage, particularly its cuisine. A few coworkers of mine expressed an interest in that area, so I thought I’d share a recipe for a local dish: chicken and sausage gumbo.
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 16 oz of diced onion, bell pepper, and celery or another common variation of the holy trinity
- 1 12 oz can of amber ale beer
- 2 32 oz boxes of chicken stock
- 3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 lb of sausage
- 2-2 1/2 cups of rice
For the holy trinity mix, I generally use the Creole Seasoning from Guidry’s Fresh Cuts, which contains yellow onion, bell pepper, celery, green onion, parsley, and garlic. Cajun and Creole cuisine share some similarities, such as their common use of variations of the holy trinity, but also differ significantly from each other. Guidry’s is something of a local staple and an easier option than acquiring and cutting the individual vegetables myself, so it’s an instance where I veer a bit from the Cajun recipe for the sake of convenience.
For the amber ale beer, I use Abita Amber Ale, which is produced by the Abita Brewing Company located in Abita Springs about 30 miles north of New Orleans. Their Amber Ale brew has a great flavor that lends itself well to the gumbo.
Finally, for the sausage, I use Savoie’s Mild Pork Sausage.
- Cut the stick of butter into small segments. Place them into a large pot on low-medium heat (on my stove, which has settings of Low, High, and 1 through 9, I use 4 here) until the butter is completely melted.
- Use a spatula to stir in the flour. Continue stirring once every 20-30 seconds until the butter-flour mixture, or roux, is the color of milk chocolate. (This will take a while.)
- Stir in the holy trinity mix. Continue to stir often until the vegetables soften.
- Add the beer. Let the foam settle, then stir until the ingredients are mixed well.
- Add the chicken stock, then stir until the ingredients are mixed well.
- Increase the heat to medium-high (on my stove, I use 6 or 7) and let the mixture come to a boil.
- Carefully slide the chicken breasts into the pot. Let the mixture continue to cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Before you reach the 45 minute mark, prepare the rice. I use a microwave rice cooker, which takes about 15 minutes for this much rice.
- Also before you reach the 45 minute mark, cut up the sausage.
- Once you reach the 45 minute mark, carefully lift the chicken breasts out of the pot, shred them, and replace them into the pot. I just use two forks to do this.
- Add the sausage to the pot. (This is done late in the process to prevent the gumbo from getting overly greasy.) Let the gumbo cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Place the rice into bowls and pure the gumbo over the rice. Optionally place the bowls in a freezer for 5 minutes or so to cool them down to eating temperature, stirring them again when you take them out.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Optional: prior to refrigerating leftovers, mix remaining rice into the gumbo. This will enable the rice to keep in the refrigerator better than it would otherwise and allows for ready-to-heat lunch-size portions.