every time i make gumbo, i learn something. yesterday, inspired by my new cast iron dutch oven, i created my most perfect one.

my favorite kind is thick & creamy. very gravy like. i love dipping thick slices of french bread in it. my favorite meats in it are sausage & chicken. i have used andouille sausage a lot, but i can’t ever get a decent one in chicago. i have used all kinds of chicken-grilling my own, boiling, using a broaster (which can turn into mush if you cook it too long-thx rachael ray)

i have FINALLY found the right meats & my own recipe recently inspired by this recipe on nolacuisine.com-a really GREAT source for all things roux & beyond. you can find some of my past gumbo trials here and here . i’ve used all kinds of seafoods, meats & techniques.

now i’m going to share a few things that make my almost-perfect gumbo.

-first, you MUST use a dutch oven.

-use more flour. i used to use 3 tablespoons to half a cup oil for the roux for 45 minutes (almost constant whisking). this time i used 3/4 a cup. trust me. if you want a thick gravy style gumbo, you have to do this.

-always brown your chopped fresh okra in plenty of oil & drain before adding

-always add the file right before serving (almost as a condiment). sassafras gets bitter if you cook it too long.

-smoked hot sauce is a good idea i used local smoked black mole hot sauce by co-op sauce

-smoked meat is the BEST idea. i went to my favorite arkansas style bbq joint & bought their smoked hot links & smoked chicken. i will never use anything else. honey 1 bbq

-adding fine chopped scallions at the end is an awesome idea

-don’t use green peppers. use poblanos instead. WAY more flavor.

-cooking it covered on low for 4 hours is also a good idea

-fresh crusty french bread is a necessity. no rice needed. unless you prefer a thinner style of gumbo

-wait until the next day to eat it. the flavors need time to mingle.

first start the roux

1/2 c. veg oil with 3/4 cup white flour. whisk over medium almost constantly for 45 minutes until it is a caramel color.

then chop a pound of fresh okra & fry till brown in plenty of oil. drain & set aside.

chop 2 poblano peppers, 3 celery hearts, 2 red onions & 5 cloves garlic & set aside. when the roux is ready, cook them together covered for 10 minutes. then add

6 cups of chicken stock
plenty of salt to taste
your own blend of cajun seasoning (can be already mixed)
4 large bay leaves
plenty of worstishire sauce
any kind of favorite hot sauce-about 4 tablespoons to half a bottle depending on your tastes. remember it gets hotter as it cooks.

cover & cook 2 hours.

pull apart a whole smoked chicken & chop up 3 smoked hot links (this part is really up to you & your availability but smoked meat is the best flavor)

throw in all the meat & the okra. cover & cook over low heat another 2 hours.

add a bunch of fine chopped scallions, plenty of file (sassafras) & half a cup of chopped fresh parsley. cook 5 minutes & serve with fresh crusty french bread.

best of luck!