I’ve only spent a day in New Orleans and admittedly the only culinary experience I had consisted of half of a muffuletta and a couple Cafe Du Monde beignets (these will ruin any other donut for you). My family and I arrived in the city one day before boarding a cruise ship and we spent our time there quickly touring the hot spots located within walking distance of our hotel. Our stroll through the French Quarter was all too brief and I’d love to make it back someday.
The Big Easy is an amazingly diverse city influenced by a vast array of cultures, each one playing an integral role in the cuisine. I only just started digging my teeth into understanding the differences between cajun and creole dining and how the French have had an influence in both.
I’m labeling this as a cajun recipe since it starts out with a very dark roux. Equal parts flour and oil combine over medium low heat and get stirred constantly until it turns the color of dark caramel. You could never fathom in a million years that so much nutty flavor could come from those two every day ingredients but it makes the broth so rich and helps thicken it just a bit.
The Holy Trinity is another popular component in cajun cuisine. It’s similar to the classic French mirepoix, a mixture of celery, onions, and carrots, but bell peppers get added in place of the carrots. This gumbo, as with many cajun dishes, starts with celery, onions, and bell peppers added to a hot pan and allowed to cook down and soften.
There are no strict rules about what meat gets added to a gumbo. They typically have one or more kinds including pork, foul, and shellfish. I modeled this recipe after gumbo my mom and I tried on our vacation this past fall which had sausage, chicken, and shrimp. A kind of meat trinity, if you will.
The smoked sausage I used added so much flavor to the dish so I wanted to keep my seasonings simple. Just salt, pepper, and a little Old Bay.
After the gumbo had simmered for 20 minutes and filled our home with a fragrant bouquet of nutty roux, smokey sausage, and roasting peppers I ladled the soup into bowls and topped it with white rice.
Having never even heard the word ‘gumbo’ before, Jay was initially skeptical when I explained what I was making for dinner but he turned out to be a big fan. Gumbo really is a flexible dish that can be tweaked to cater to a wide array of palates. I encourage you to try this recipe. Even though there are a few components happening at once, each step by itself is simple and you end up with an incredibly flavorful meal.
Simple Cajun Chicken Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo
- 1/4 Cup Oil
- 1/4 Cup Flour
- 2 Chicken Breasts
- 4 Stalks of Celery, chopped
- 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
- 2 Medium Onions, chopped
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
- 14 Oz. Andouille Sausage, sliced
- 15-18 Fresh Shrimp, deveined or Precooked Frozen Shrimp
- 4 Cups Chicken Stock
- White Rice, for serving (optional)
Heat a large dutch oven or pot over medium low heat. Get started on the roux by adding the oil and flour and stir to combine. Stir every few minutes until it develops a rich, dark caramel color. Scoop the mixture into a bowl and set a side.
While the roux is developing, preheat the oven to 425. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 160, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and slice into chunks.
After the roux has been removed from the pan, add the chopped vegetables and seasonings. Cook the vegetables until they’re soft and the onions are translucent. Add the sausage. If using raw shrimp, add them to the pot now.
Cover with the chicken stock and add the roux back to the pot. Let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Add the chicken and cooked shrimp (if using) and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve with rice and enjoy!