What’s Up, Hungry People!
My boyfriend and I are completely hooked on gumbo. Seriously, if it’s on a menu, there’s a 100% chance we’re ordering it. With Mardi Gras right around the corner, our cravings for this spicy, rice-filled, bowl of yum went through the roof. So, in the spirit of Fat Tuesday, I’ve been honing my Southern cooking skills—yep, I even whipped up some ultra-simple shrimp po’boys to really get us into the Mardi Gras groove.
The Basics of Gumbo
Gumbo typically features a mix of andouille sausage, chicken, and shrimp, all swimming in a sea of vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, onions, and okra. Fun fact: I totally spaced on grabbing okra, so you won’t see it in this recipe. But if you’re itching for that extra dash of authenticity, go ahead and toss some in!
When it comes to gumbo, it’s all about the flavor explosion, folks. And the good news? You can easily adjust it to your liking. In our house, we love our gumbo with an extra kick, so I threw in some additional Cajun spice mix. But remember, the backbone of any great gumbo is a well-crafted broth. Mine is made with chicken and a medley of fresh veggies.
Here’s What You Need
- Chicken Breast: Provides a lean source of protein; gives the gumbo its hearty, meaty texture.
- Andouille Sausage: Adds smokiness and a bit of a kick; a staple in traditional gumbo recipes.
- Raw Shrimp: Offers a contrasting texture and a seafood flavor; cooks quickly within the gumbo.
- Chicken Broth: The base liquid for the gumbo; contributes to the dish’s depth of flavor.
- Celery: Adds crunch and a subtle earthiness; part of the traditional “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking.
- Red Onion: Brings sweetness and a bit of bite; also part of the Cajun “holy trinity.”
- Red Bell Pepper: Adds color and sweetness; complements the other vegetables.
- Green Bell Pepper: Provides a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the red bell pepper.
- Garlic: Enhances the overall flavor profile; offers a background note of pungency.
- Green Onions: Used as a garnish; adds a fresh, sharp flavor to the finished dish.
- Flour: Used to thicken the gumbo; combines with the oil to make a roux.
- Vegetable Oil: Sautéing medium for the vegetables; also part of the roux for thickening.
- Cajun Spice Blend: Provides an array of spices in one mix; essential for the gumbo’s distinct flavor.
- Cayenne Pepper: Adds heat to the gumbo; amplifies the spiciness.
- Rice: Serves as the starchy base; absorbs the flavors of the gumbo.
- Salt & Pepper: Basic seasonings; used to adjust the final flavor of the gumbo.
- Parsley: Adds a touch of color and freshness; enhances the visual appeal and taste.
First up, we’ve got to get those vegetables ready. Dice ’em up into bite-sized pieces. I started off with the sturdier guys, like the red onion and celery, and then worked my way to adding the peppers, tomatoes, and other seasonings.
Thickening Up: Adding Flour and Broth
Now, sprinkle some flour over the diced vegetables to coat them nicely. After that, it’s time to pour in your chicken broth. Keep it at a gentle simmer; you don’t want a full-on boil here.
The Meat of the Matter
For the chicken and andouille sausage, you can either cook them in a separate pan or use pre-cooked versions to save time. As for the shrimp, toss ’em in raw, but make sure they go in last to avoid that dreaded rubbery texture.
Cooking Time: Simmer and Thicken
Set your stovetop to medium-low and let the gumbo simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. I used this window to steam some rice and allow the gumbo sauce to thicken up nicely.
Tips for a PERFECT Gumbo
- Pre-Cooking Meats: Cooking your meats beforehand makes the process quicker and helps you control the texture better.
- Don’t Rush the Roux: A good roux is the foundation of your gumbo. Take your time to cook it to the right color and consistency.
- Shrimp Cooking Time: Add the shrimp towards the end of the cooking process to avoid overcooking and getting rubbery shrimp.
- Rice Ratio: Make sure to balance the amount of rice and gumbo in each bowl so that neither overwhelms the other.
- Spice Levels: If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, feel free to dial back the Cajun spice and cayenne pepper.
- The “Holy Trinity”: Red onion, celery, and bell peppers are essential in Cajun cooking. Don’t skip these!
- Freshness Check: Always make sure your seafood, especially the shrimp, is fresh to avoid ruining the entire dish.
- Simmer Time: Don’t rush the simmering process; it allows the flavors to meld together.
- Consistency Troubleshooting: If the gumbo is too thin, you can simmer it a bit longer. If it’s too thick, add a bit more chicken broth.
- Alternative Thickeners: If you’re out of flour or prefer a gluten-free option, you can use cornstarch as a thickening agent.
- Vegetable Prep: Chop your vegetables uniformly to ensure even cooking.
- Storage Tips: Gumbo tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Serving Options: Besides rice, you can also serve gumbo with crusty bread or even over a baked potato for something different.
- Season to Taste: Always taste the gumbo before serving and adjust the salt and pepper accordingly.
Time to Serve: Spicy Alert!
Ladle your gumbo over a generous mound of rice, and be warned—this version is extra spicy! Handle with care!
Sides and Final Touches: Bread Options
We opted for French bread to dip into our gumbo, but feel free to use cornbread or even another crusty bread in lieu of—or along with—white rice. Whatever floats your boat!
And just like that, you’re ready to let the good times roll with a crazy easy gumbo that’ll jazz up your Mardi Gras—or any day, really. Armed with a couple of tips and a handful of affordable ingredients, you’ve got everything you need to whip up a feast. Trust me, this is one dish that’ll make you the star of your own kitchen parade.
Enjoy, Hungry People!
Mardi Gras Gumbo
- 8 oz chicken breast cooked & cut into cubes
- 8 oz andouille sausage cooked & sliced
- 8 oz raw shrimp peeled
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup celery chopped
- ½ cup red onion chopped
- ½ cup red bell pepper chopped
- ½ cup green bell pepper chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 green onion chopped
- ½ cup flour
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cajun spice blend
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 cups cooked rice
- salt & pepper to taste
- parsley for topping
- Cook the chicken and andouille sausage, set aside for 10 minutes, then cut into cubes and slices, respectively. Peel and devein the shrimp, but leave them raw.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil. Next, add the red onions, celery, red and green peppers, and garlic. Sauté until tender and fragrant. Add the parsley, cayenne pepper, Cajun spice blend, and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the flour to the pan and stir until the vegetables are coated. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked chicken and andouille sausage. Reduce the heat to a medium-low temperature and let it simmer for twenty minutes. Toss in the shrimp for the last 5 minutes.
- While the gumbo is thickening, steam the rice. Serve each bowl of gumbo with one cup of the cooked rice, top with green onions, and enjoy!