Gumbo is the quintessential Louisiana dish; it’s practically a religion here. Everyone makes it a little differently, but everyone makes it — and has very strong opinions on the right way to do it. I learned to make gumbo from my uncle, who learned it from my grandma. But I waited a long time before putting it on the La Petite menu, because it’s such a personal thing.
Gumbo has gone through so many creative interpretations that once you understand the essentials, it really just comes down to making it however you want to make it. I use duck because I like to go duck hunting, but if you prefer chicken, that works, too. These days, I’m not so concerned with making a super-traditional gumbo — I’d rather throw in some poblano peppers and greens, and if you want to call it blasphemy, that’s fine with me. I think it’s delicious.
A few things to note about the cooking technique: The success of a great gumbo lies in the roux (which in this case is a flavoring agent, more than a thickening one). This recipe can be easily doubled to feed acrowd (and freezes well); make it in advance if possible, since it always tastes better the second day. It’s traditional to serve gumbo with rice, though my favorite accompaniment is a super-simple potato salad with mustard, mayonnaise, and vinegar — that’s a classic southwestern Louisiana way to eat it.
Reprinted with permission from The New Orleans Kitchen by Justin Devillier, copyright (c) 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
- 4 duck legs
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 Cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 Cups peanut oil
- 1 Cup small-diced onion
- 1/2 Cup small-diced celery
- 3/4 Cups small-diced poblano peppers
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 1 bunch mustard greens or other hearty greens, trimmed and cut into ribbons (about 4 cups)
- 4 Cups okra, cut into ½-inch rounds
- 1 Pound andouille sausage, cut into ½-inch rounds
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon hot pepper vinegar, such as brine from pickled jalapeños or other pickled peppers
- 1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped thyme leaves
- 1 Cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 Cup thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the duck legs on a baking sheet and season on both sides with the salt and pepper. Roast, undisturbed, until the skin is golden brown and crispy, about 1 hour.
While the duck roasts, make a dark roux with the flour and oil.
Add the onion, celery, poblanos, and garlic directly to the pot with the hot roux. This will cause a volatile, steamy reaction. Stir the vegetables frequently to sweat (soften and release their aroma without browning) and blend into the roux, until visibly wilted and cooked through, 10 to 20 minutes. The roux will thicken and get slightly darker.
Add the stock to the pot, gradually while whisking out any lumps of roux. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring with a flat-edged spoon to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
Add the greens, okra, andouille, and the whole roasted duck legs to the pot. Stir in the Worcestershire, vinegar, thyme, and parsley. Simmer until the duck meat is falling off the bones, about 1 hour. Remove the legs from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Pick all of the meat off the bones and stir it back into the pot. Discard the bones.
Add the green onion and season with salt and black pepper. Waiting to season until the andouille has cooked is important because the sausage releases a bit of its seasoning as it cooks.
Remove from the heat and let the gumbo rest for 20 minutes before serving. Or, ideally, cool to room temperature, refrigerate overnight, and gently reheat the next day to give the flavors more time to meld. Store leftover gumbo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.