We have a thing with Cajun food. And by we, I mostly mean Mike. A couple of years ago, he invested in a 60-quart pot so we could host our own shrimp and crawfish boils for the masses. Nearly every Friday, he asks to pick up none other than Cajun food for dinner on his way home from work. And, just when I think we’ve exhausted every video in the Viet-Cajun genre on YouTube, I am again proven wrong.
When I step back and think about it, it’s not surprising that Mike has fallen in love with Cajun food. Yes, it’s delicious, super flavorful and unique. But more than that, it brings people together. Whether over a bowl of gumbo or jambalaya, or a table covered in newspaper and strewn with shellfish, potatoes and corn, Cajun food is a connector of people.
And so it happened that this year, Mike’s brother Jim has started joining us for family dinners on Sunday nights. One Sunday, Mike made the recipe below, and our lives were forever changed. Never before had we experienced a gumbo so rich, smoky, and deeply full of flavor and soul.
Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for bringing this recipe into the world.
Until We Eat Again,
Two Happy Cooks
Note – we also recommend adding shrimp to this… game changer.
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth, room temperature
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
8 ounces andouille sausage, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 scallions, sliced thin
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place flour in 12-inch skillet and bake, stirring occasionally, until color of ground cinnamon, 40 to 55 minutes. (As flour approaches desired color, it will take on very nutty aroma that will smell faintly of burnt popcorn, and it will need to be stirred more frequently.) Transfer flour to medium bowl and let cool. (Toasted flour can be stored in airtight container in cool, dark place for up to 6 months.)
2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in thyme, garlic, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups broth. Add chicken in single layer (chicken will not be completely submerged in liquid) and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.
3. Slowly whisk remaining 2 cups broth in small increments into toasted flour until thick, smooth, batter-like paste forms. Increase heat to medium and slowly whisk paste into gumbo, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding next. Stir in andouille. Simmer, uncovered, until gumbo thickens slightly, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Once cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir chicken and scallions into gumbo. Remove pot from heat, stir in vinegar, and season with salt to taste. Discard bay leaves. Serve, passing hot sauce separately.