Gumbo Part 1

Some foods just seem better during cold weather.  All it takes is one cool breeze and that indicates it’s gumbo weather at our house.  Thursday I smoked a chicken to make gumbo so last night I started it.  It’s one of those foods that seems better the next day so it simmered for a while last night and will simmer a while today before we have it for dinner.

Here’s how I make my gumbo and I’ll be the first to admit that I like lots of people’s gumbo better than I like my own but I think you kinda develop your own skill at making gumbo and no matter what I do differently, mine stays the same.  Chad and Vince love it!  They almost love it too much because I can see Vince glancing at Chad’s bowl to make sure he isn’t getting too much and I have seen Chad scoop out a bit and put in a container to store in the fridge downstairs just to guarantee he gets his share of it.

It’s so easy to make!  If you’ve never tried it . . please try it if you think you might like it.

For chicken gumbo, start with a chicken.  (Sounds pretty easy so far, right?)  You can boil the chicken or smoke it or grill it or whatever.  Some people even put whole, raw chicken pieces in their gumbo.  I don’t do that.

In a separate pot — the one you’re going to use for your gumbo, make your roux.  Roux is simply browned flour.  Creole cooks generally make their roux lighter than do cajun cooks.  I’ve heard that a roux should be equal parts fat (oil, shortening) and flour.  I don’t measure so I can’t say if that’s what you want or not.


Start maybe with 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup flour.  Over medium heat, begin browning the flour.  Stir constantly because you do not want it to burn and it will burn very quickly if you’re not careful.  If ever you make gumbo and find it too then, you can always make a little batch of roux in a separate pot, dump it into the gumbo pot and let it continue simmer til everything blends together and the gumbo thickens.


Keep stirring and you may need to turn down the heat just a bit to keep it from burning.


This is about the color I’m happy with.  Once you get to the color you want, add the vegetables.  I add:


Chopped onion.  That’s one whole large onion.  Add as much or as little as you want.


Green peppers.  I buy these when they’re on sale, chop them, store them in FoodSaver bags in the freezer.


Some garlic.  I used about 2 tablespoons.

Some people add in celery but I do not.  Saute the veggies til they’re pretty clear.  They’re going to get mushy during the cooking process and will probably just disappear but the flavor will be there.

Add your meats.


Shredded smoked chicken.  If I don’t have a smoked chicken, I add either meat from a boiled chicken or sometimes, if you happen by the deli in the grocery store just right, they’ll have rotisserie chickens marked down.  Grab a couple of those, debone them, put the meat in the freezer for when you need it.  That would work for gumbo.


Sausage.  I slice the sausage and brown it in a separate pot because sometimes it’s real greasy.  This is venison sausage, thanks to my niece’s husband.


Add some water, a bay leaf or two, salt and pepper and let simmer uncovered for at least several hours.   Add less salt than you think you’ll need.   You will taste test before serving and can adjust salt and pepper then.  I simmered til time to turn it off and let it cool down before putting it in the fridge overnight.  Today I’ll simmer it some more, add the last of the magic ingredients and this is dinner for tonight!



  1. 1

    Norma says

    Judy, that looks so good. We had chicken and sausage gumbo last night, compliment of friends. Served with potato salad and french bread, of course. Thanks for the recipe. My mother-in-law taught me how to make a roux when I was a teenager, using just flour! It took an hour for that flour to brown and you really had to stand over it and not let it burn.

    We had a cool spell down south (92 degrees) so it was time for gumbo.

    • 1.1


      I’ve tried baking the flour in the oven til it gets nice and brown but I still like the fat/flour mixture better. I’m sure anything you and your friends make is way better than mine. Maybe it’s the Louisiana water!

  2. 3


    Hmmm Magic Ingredients?? I didn’t see a list of magic ingredients! Waiting with anticipation to find out what the magic ingredients are!!! This sounds wonderful and so easy that I believe I can make this! Maybe even send the recipe on to my son who is learning how to cook for himself and try new things! Hugs, Trish in Kansas

  3. 5

    bettina says

    looks and sounds great..its gotten to be fall weather here in virginia so maybe this week i will be making some gumbo

    thanks for the recipe

  4. 6

    Pam says

    Judy…did you add anything to the roux to get it to change from light brown to the reddish color? I’ve never eaten gumbo. I think we’d like it. Thanks for sharing.

  5. 7


    I was taught how to make a roux from a friend in Baton Rouge. The one thing I remember her saying is if you burn it, start over. You won’t like the taste of the gumbo if you use burned roux. Yours is a beautiful color!!!!

    The fun part of gumbo is trying the different types. Every cook has their own recipe.

  6. 8

    Bobbie says

    Any Rice? I just thot rice was in Gumbo?
    DO any of you have Safeway grocery stors–ours make Gumbp every Sat. and it is good. They have a different soup each day. I’ve done my shar of buying the gumbo–but I am oing to try yours Judy. Hugs, Bobbie

  7. 9


    Thank you. Seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    As a Northerner from a town where we have da Coach and say youse guys regularly, gumbo is a yummy yet foreign concept. We make killer pizza and great hot dogs in Chicago, but gumbo is a no. I had to go to Kansas to get file powder, and self rising flour is also hard to find in these here parts. Certainly, you understand my dilemma.

    So thank you very much. I’m looking forward to the next part.

  8. 10

    Cynthia H., El Cerrito, CA says

    “Magic ingredients” … maybe okra and/or those dried, pulverized sassafras leaves, aka gumbo filé? (fee-LAY pronunciation)

    Just sayin’ to anyone who has a sassafras tree…they do NOT grow out here where I live, in the “boonies” of California. (Well, pretty urban, but very “boonie” re. Southern cooking, believe me.) Would LOVE to receive dried sassafras leaves! The commercial filé powder has a lot of extra junk in it.

    Re. the rice: there are different schools of thought about whether the rice is cooked with the gumbo in the same pot, or whether the rice and gumbo are cooked in separate pots and combined when served. This discussion can get as intense as the one about whether or not cracker crumbs are desireable, OK, essential, or forbidden in the fried-chicken breading! 🙂

    • 10.1


      I don’t believe there’s anything in Zatarain’s file except the dried, crushed sassafras leaves. Not saying it isn’t done but I’ve never ever heard of rice being cooked with the gumbo . . not in Louisiana anyway.

  9. 11


    That looks so good Judy. Nothing smells better than a pot of gumbo slow cooking on the stove. I just made my own file` powder from leaves someone sent to me. I can’t wait to make some gumbo so we can try it. I’ve heard the Tony Chachere’s file` is pure Sassafras.

  10. 12


    I can see that on the menu next weekend. Thanks for the recipe.
    My son-in-law is from Mississippi I would love to learn to cook something he would enjoy.