Chicken and andouille is my favorite of the classic gumbo combinations, the chicken tender and filling and the sausage adding a rich spike of heat. Make it a day or two in advance for the best flavor and reheat it slowly so that the chicken meat does not fall apart. It freezes exceptionally well and is a great choice for parties or tailgating. Don’t skip the white rice—gumbo isn’t gumbo if it isn’t served over a mound of rice—or the hot sauce at the table.
In Louisiana, everyone has his or her own preference when it comes to gumbo thickness. This one is about middle of the road, which is the way I prefer it—not too brothy and not too thick. It is easy to adjust the thickness by using less broth for a thicker gumbo and/or adding more for a thinner consistency.
Excerpted from Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom From My Life in the Kitchen by Emeril Lagasse. Copyright © 2015 Emeril Lagasse dba MSLO Acquisition sub, LLC. Reprinted with permission from Oxmoor House, an imprint of Time Inc. Books. All rights reserved.
Making A Roux:
Roux is a mixture of flour and oil cooked on the stovetop to different stages. The darker the roux, the deeper and more complex its flavor becomes, taking on more pronounced toasty overtones the longer it is cooked. Roux is also used as a thickener. When making roux, you must stir, stir, stir, reaching into every corner of the pot, or else you will end up with some burnt bits, which will ruin its flavor.
1. Roux starts with flour and oil, usually in a 1:1 ratio. Combine them in a heavy-bottomed pot, like a cast iron or enameled cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Stir constantly over medium-high heat with a wooden spoon.
2. The roux is now starting to color ever so slightly, and is what is called a blonde roux. Blonde roux is used in preparations where you want the benefit of roux’s thickening properties but you don’t want it to affect the taste of the dish, like in a white sauce. If your recipe calls for a darker roux, turn the heat down now to medium or medium-low.
3. The roux has now cooked to the color of peanut butter. If your recipe calls for it to be cooked darker than this, be even more vigilant about stirring and paying attention to what is going on in the pot. If at any point you feel the roux is browning too fast, turn the heat down further.
4. The roux is now the color of a copper penny. You can stop here or you can continue to cook it until it is the color of milk chocolate, as called for in this gumbo. The best way to keep a roux from getting any darker is to have the vegetables and sausage prepped for the next step and to add them as soon as the desired color of roux is achieved; this will immediately drop the temperature of the roux.
Rinse the chicken well under cool running water and remove the neck, gizzard, heart, and liver from the cavity if present. Place the chicken in a large stockpot or Dutch oven along with any parts (except the liver; it can give the stock a bitter taste), and cover with the stock and water. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour; at that point, the chicken should easily pull away from the bones.
Using tongs, remove the chicken from the stock and set aside until cool enough to handle. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, discarding the vegetables. Pull the chicken meat off the bones, discarding the bones, skin, and any fat. Shred and reserve the meat, and refrigerate until needed. Cool the stock, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or the freezer for 6 months.
Make the Rich Chicken Stock and reserve the shredded chicken meat and broth as the recipe instructs. If using it the same day, let the broth cool before starting the gumbo.
With the oil and flour, make a roux the color of milk chocolate following the directions opposite.
Immediately add the onions, celery, garlic, bell pepper, cayenne, and sausage, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. If the broth has cooled by this time, add it to the roux mixture along with the salt, black pepper, and bay leaf, and bring to a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer, skimming any foam or excess oil that comes to the top, until the sauce is flavorful and thickened to the desired consistency, and any trace of floury taste is gone, about 2 hours.
Add the chicken, green onions, and parsley to the gumbo and continue to simmer about 30 minutes longer. Don’t stir too much or the chicken will fall apart into shreds. Adjust the thickness, if necessary, by adding water or more broth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and cayenne as needed.
Serve the gumbo in shallow bowls over hot white rice. Have the hot sauce and filé at the table for guests to use to their liking.