Gumbo! {by Mr. Sweets and Whimsy}

Mardi Gras can be celebrated many ways. The King Cake recipe that was posted earlier demonstrates the richness that might be found at a bakery in the French Quarter. What about out in the bayou? How do people let it all out before the self-denial of the Lenten season?

According to Cynthia LeJeune Nobles in New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories, in southern Louisiana, gumbo is a central feature of Mardi Gras celebrations. On Mardi Gras, local men wander from house to house and beg for gumbo ingredients in an event known as courir de Mardi Gras. Members of the local community then gather in a central location while the men cook the gumbo. When it is ready, the group eats and dances until midnight, when Lent begins.

Sounds like quite a party. It’s easy to imagine dancing the night away with this hearty, spicy, satisfying gumbo and some cold beverages.

The first step in making gumbo is to make a roux. Roux is fat of some sort and flour, cooked to activate the glutens in the flour so that when they’re simmered in a liquid they unfurl and form a sort of matrix that thickens the liquid. As a rule, the longer you cook a roux before adding liquid, the less the thickening effect. In gumbo, the roux is cooked until is it s deep, chestnut brown, so it’s not so much a thickening agent as a flavoring agent. Instead, the velvety thickness of gumbo comes from two other ingredients: filé powder (dried  and ground sassafras leaves) and okra.

Let’s get started.


 In a heavy-bottomed pan (the biggest you have), heat one cup of canola oil over medium-high heat. Then add one cup of all-purpose flour. It will begin sizzling when you throw it in, so get ready to stir.


Stir the roux constantly as it cooks and darkens, about fifteen minutes. 


 Once it reaches a glossy, dark brown, reduce the heat and add two large diced onions. Cook it another ten minutes or so.


Season one pound of chicken parts with creole seasoning (see recipe below for the blend I used). I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, because after all it is Mardi Gras. Cut the chicken into large bite-sized pieces and add it to the roux to brown for a few minutes.


 When the chicken is browned, add a pound of sliced smoked sausage, two ribs of diced celery, two seeded and diced green bell peppers, one seeded and diced tomato, and two minced cloves of garlic. Cook them in the roux for a few minutes and then add three quarts of chicken stock (I had to transfer everything to a bigger pot before I could add all the stock). Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it for forty-five minutes.


 Add two cups of sliced okra and a pound of andouille sausage. Mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of water and then add it too (I couldn’t find filé powder on short notice, so I substituted cornstarch–if you can find filé, add it here instead). Add a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce and a few dashes of Tabasco, and adjust the seasonings as needed. Simmer the gumbo another forty-five minutes.

Serve hot gumbo over white rice, and enjoy!

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo
Serves 10
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
  1. 1 cup canola oil
  2. 1 cup flour
  3. 2 large onions, diced
  4. 1 pound of chicken parts (such as boneless skinless thighs)
  5. 2 tablespoons Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows)
  6. 2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
  7. 2 stalks celery, diced
  8. 2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
  9. 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  10. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  11. Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  12. 3 quarts chicken stock
  13. 2 bay leaves
  14. 1 pound andouille sausage, chopped
  15. 2 cups sliced fresh okra
  16. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  17. Salt
  18. Freshly ground black pepper
  19. Filé powder (substitute 1 Tablespoon cornstarch if you can't find it)
  20. Tabasco
  21. White rice for serving
For the Creole Seasoning
  1. 2 tablespoons celery salt
  2. 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  3. 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  4. 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  6. 1 tablespoon onion powder
  7. 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  1. 1. Make a roux by heating the chicken fat or oil in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate and continue whisking until the roux takes on a deep brown color, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, stirring them into the roux with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue stirring until the roux is a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. 2. Season the chicken with Creole Spices. Add the chicken to the pot, raise heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. 3. Add the smoked sausage and stir for a minute before adding the celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the thyme, Chicken Stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and skim off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
  4. 4. Add the andouille, okra, and Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat off the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé at the table.
For the Creole Spices
  1. - makes 1/2 cup -
  2. Mix together the celery salt, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and allspice in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and store.
Sweets & Whimsy

Apple Rutabaga Soup (a tribute to The Inn At Little Washington)

washington-va-hotels-04In January we had the once in a lifetime opportunity to go to The Inn at Little Washington. I loved every single detail of the experience. It was so much more than a meal, it was an adventure for the taste buds. Eating not just to feed the body, but to enlighten the mind. Course after course, we were blown away by the imagination and talent of Chef Patrick! The world famous chef was kind enough to share this recipe. This soup warms your body and makes you feel happy and nourished all at the same time! So creamy, so smooth! When we dined at the Inn, this soup was paired with a cheese puff that I wouldn’t know where to begin to try to duplicate, but I am trying! It melted in your mouth, the perfect combination of chewiness and cheesiness!  My version of the soup went a little like this!

(Sorry these pictures are low quality. I didn’t have access to my camera at the time. Can’t wait to make it again and update the pictures!)

chopped veggies

 Chop your veggies! I love the amount of veggies in this soup! They all go so well together: onions, carrots, rutabagas, butternut squash, sweet potato, and Granny Smith apple! ( I recently substituted parsnips for the carrots and it was just as lovely, only difference was the color!)


Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter. 


Put all of those beautiful veggies in your butter bath! Yum! Saute until onions are translucent! Then add some chicken stock and get that soup party started!


This is what the veggies look like after adding 2 cups of chicken stock and simmering for 25 minutes! Don’t they look so very happy?! 


Now we can put all of our happy veggies and stock into the blender for a happy marriage of flavor and creaminess!


Strain through a fine mesh strainer for an even creamier texture!


 Add cream, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and cayenne and….. it’s done!!

unnamedEnjoy this soup from Chef Patrick and little ole’ me! washington-inn-founder_1

I can’t wait to hear from you! Let me know if you’ve tried this soup and what variations you’ve tried.