Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Submitted by Chef Donald Barickman
Magnolias Restaurant
Charleston, South Carolina

It is very important that the roux is cooked long and slow and allowed to toast to a very dark rich color without burning. This gives this dish its unique nutty flavor and dark rich color. The okra and file powder actually give this gumbo its consistency, as the thickening capabilities of the roux are lost when it is cooked to this extensive dark state.

Prepare all of the vegetables and spices before beginning to make the roux.

Makes 12 (8-ounce) servings

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 pound andouille sausage or a good smoked sausage, diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon file powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups Chicken Broth, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh okra, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 recipe Carolina Aromatic Rice (see  below)

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.

Place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet with raised sides. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Dice and reserve.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it just begins to smoke. Carefully add the flour all at once and stir to mix with a wooden spoon. Carefully continue to stir the roux for the next 8 to 10 minutes. Move the entire pan on and off the heat to control a slow, even toasting of the flour. A light mahogany color is optimum. If the flour seems to be burnt, discard it and start over. This roux becomes extremely hot, so be very careful.

When the desired color is obtained, lower the heat to medium and remove the pot from the burner. Carefully add the celery, onions, and bell peppers all at once to stop the roux from continuing to brown. Mix the vegetables and roux for 2 minutes, allowing the steam that is produced to be released.

Place the pot back over medium heat and add the sausage, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, file powder, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the vegetables become soft. Add the chicken broth and whisk vigorously. Bring gradually to a boil, skim off the foam and discard. Continue to cook the gumbo slowly for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Continue to cook the gumbo over low heat for 6 minutes. During this process oil will rise to the top; skim off the oil and discard. Add the okra and parsley and allow the okra to cook gently in the gumbo for 10 to15 minutes, or until it stops floating. Too much movement will break up the okra. Discard the bay leaf.

The Rice

If using a rice steamer, rinse the rice as you usually would and drain well. Use a one cup of water to one cup of rice ratio for steaming the rice. The following is a one-pot method.

  • 2 cups Carolina Plantation Aromatic Rice (about 1 pound)
  • 3 cups water

Rinse the rice with cold water until the water is clear. Place the rice and the water in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot and cover with a lid. Place the pot over medium-low heat and allow it to come to a boil slowly. Reduce the heat and cook the rice slowly for 12 to 15 minutes. It’s best not to peek and allow the steam to escape. When the rice has finished cooking, steam holes should be present at the surface of the rice and all of the water should have been absorbed by the rice.

Serve by placing 1 cup of gumbo in each bowl and adding 1/4-cup of the rice in the center. Garnish with the scallions and a sprinkle of file powder.