It has been exactly one year since I arrived in USA for a holiday with my little sister and we spend some amazing time in New Orleans: we were lucky to join the Halloween party (big street party!), Smoke Cigars sipping drinks in a Steamboat while cruising the Mississippi, enjoy a Jazz concert in the Louis Armstrong park (check out the video at the end of the post) at the all Saints day and of course, try all Cajun food we could.  

After a lot of tasting we came up with the hard decision that our favorite was Gumbo,  a traditional Southern Louisiana stew/soup.     Back to Australia I asked my American friend Chef James Andrews  how to make it and he came up with this cracker of a recipe.

Here in Oz I couldn't find at all Filé Powder  that is a condiment made of dried and ground leaves of the sassafras tree - other than that, this recipe is perfect.    Best Gumbo I tried (except of course if you are in Nola... :-)).

The critical point here is the Roux.    Roux is a cooking mixture of flour and fat and you might have done that before to use as base for sauces like Bechamel and Velouté.    As a sauce base I learned to make roux with butter and the first time I made Gumbo I actually replaced the oil by butter just to have my ears pulled by the chef: Cajun Roux in with vegetable oil! :-) (lesson learned).

Anyway, butter or vegetable oil, unlike the roux used as sauce base, making the cajun roux is a love and patience labor.  Use a very heavy thick-bottomed pan and  reserve 25-30 minutes just to stir the pot with flour and fat until the light colored flour turns into a chocolate color of strong earthy flavor.     This is the most important component of the dish.

Another ingredient hard to find around here is Andouille sausage - I do replace it by Kielbasa or Spanish Chorizo.   Important is that it has to be smoked and spiced.

You know, right when we arrived in Nola, the driver that took us from the airport to our hostel told us:  What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in New Orleans nobody remembers :-D   Well.... I shall never forget!

(my Sis practicing with uncle Louis to work as live statue in New Orleans)


Serves: Cost:$$ | Difficulty:  Medium | Time: 3h
Author: Chef James Andrews


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped capsicum
  • ½ Kg smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, cut crosswise into ½-inch slices
  • 6 cups chicken broth - or homemade stock
  • 1/2 Kg boneless chicken meat or turkey, cut into chunks or shredded (great use of leftovers)
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon file powder (optional)
  • Cooked rice for serving
  1. Combine the oil and flour in a large pot over medium heat (use a cast iron one if you have it). 
  2. Stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4 to 5 minutes, or until wilted. 
  3. Add the meats, spices, and bay leaves. 
  4. Continue to stir for 3 to 4 minutes. 
  5. Add the chicken broth. 
  6. Stir until the roux mixture and water are well combined. 
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. 
  8. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
    Before serving, skim off any fat that rises to the surface. 
  9. Remove from the heat. 
  10. Stir in filé powder (optional). 
  11. Remove the bay leaves and serve in deep bowls.
  12. Add ¼ cup scoop of cooked rice on top.


A tiny Bit of New Orleans captured by my iPhone camera :-) ...

The Untamed Cook

Rachel Elich is a globetrotting, computer engineer, project manager, designer, untamed cook extraordinaire who backpacks around the world. Along the way on adventures, Rachel has adopted and incorporated international influences into all aspects of her creative work endeavours.

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