Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
Filé powder and a dark roux enrich Frank Brightsen's rich Cajun stew.
“There are as many ways to make gumbo in Louisiana as there are cooks,” says chef Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen’s Restaurant in New Orleans, “but the thing they all have in common is the use of a roux.” His rich, hearty version—a “filé gumbo” thickened with ground sassafras leaves—uses oil leftover from browning chicken to make the roux, increasing the meaty flavor and complexity of the dish. Add the vegetables in two stages to provide different levels of taste and texture, and be sure to cook out the filé until no longer stringy. (Note: Brigtsen’s original recipe calls for rabbit, which you’re welcome to use. We’ve adapted his method to make a chicken and andouille gumbo here.)
What You Will Need
- 1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced into ¼-in.-thick half-moons
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 3 tbsp. Cajun seasoning, divided
- Peanut oil, for frying
- 1 3-lb. chicken, cut into 6 pieces, ribcage reserved, or 3-4 lb. bone-in chicken pieces
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions, divided
- 3 cups coarsely chopped celery, divided
- 2 cups coarsely chopped green bell pepper, divided
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tbsp. filé
- 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1⁄4 tsp. finely ground white pepper
- 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 12 cups chicken stock or water
- Cooked rice, for serving
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Place the sausage in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake until the edges are lightly browned, 35–40 minutes. Set aside to cool and turn off the oven.
- Meanwhile, in a shallow dish or pie plate, whisk together 2 cups of the flour and 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning. Rub the chicken pieces evenly with the remaining Cajun seasoning, then dredge in the flour and transfer to a plate beside the stove. (Discard the leftover seasoned flour.)
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Into a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, pour the oil to a depth of ½ inch and attach a deep-fry thermometer. When the temperature reads 350°F, working in batches if needed, add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the baking sheet to drain, then strain the oil through cheesecloth into a heatproof measuring cup and set aside. Return the Dutch oven to the stove.
- Make the roux: Into the empty Dutch oven, pour ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the reserved peanut oil (save the rest for another use) and turn the heat to medium-high. Once hot, gradually whisk in the remaining flour, then cook, whisking continuously, until the roux turns the color of butterscotch, 2–3 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and cook, whisking continuously, until the roux is deep reddish brown, 15–20 minutes, then scrape it into a heatproof bowl and set aside.
- To the empty Dutch oven, add the olive oil, 3 cups of the onion, 2 cups of the celery, 1½ cups of the bell pepper, and the bay leaves. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned, 10–12 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining onion, celery, and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, to soften slightly, 2–3 minutes. Turn the heat to low and add the filé, salt, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, and garlic, and cook, stirring continuously, until the filé becomes a sticky, smooth paste, 3–4 minutes. Turn the heat to high and stir in the chicken stock. When the liquid boils, add the sausage, then turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, skimming and discarding any fat that rises to the surface. Add the reserved chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked, 30–35 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the chicken pieces to a cutting board, and when cool enough to handle, discard the bones and skin and coarsely chop the meat; set aside.
- Turn the heat to high and skim and discard any fat that rises to the surface. When the liquid boils, add a hefty spoonful of roux to the broth, and stir to incorporate. Repeat, spoonful by spoonful, with the remaining roux, then turn the heat to low and cook, skimming and discarding any fat that rises to the surface, until the gumbo thickens slightly, about 25 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring gently, until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes, and serve.