I won first prize with this recipe at an annual Gumbo Cookoff for Mardi Gras in Soulard (St. Louis). I refuse to believe it won just because the cookoff/party happened to be at my house! It is a hybrid of several gumbo recipes I've tried, including one in the Southern Sideboards recipe book from the Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi. Note: cooking and prep time are listed as if you are preparing the different parts of the recipe simultaneously. You can certainly make the chicken/stock ahead and spread out your prep time for chopping/measuring spices over a couple days.
- 4 1⁄2 lbs whole chickens
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 4 -8 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 celery rib
- 1⁄2 cup white wine
- 6 -8 black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1⁄2 lbs fresh okra, chopped
- 1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
- 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 medium sized yellow onions, chopped
- 2 small green bell peppers, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 (28 ounce) candiced Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
- 1 1⁄2 lbs cooked smoked sausage, sliced in 1/3-inch pieces
- 1 1⁄2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons file powder
- Place chicken and next 10 ingredients in large stockpot and cover with water (approx. 1 gallon) and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is tender (approx. 1 hour).
- Using tongs, remove chicken to a strainer and cool.
- Strain chicken stock into a large container (discard whatever the strainer catches). Save stock for use in gumbo later.
- Remove meat from bones in pieces and reserve to add to gumbo later.
- Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in heavy skillet over medium heat.
- Add okra to skillet and cook until no longer sticky, stirring frequently (about 20 minutes), then set aside to add to gumbo later.
- Stir flour and 1/3 cup vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir frequently until it becomes a deep, golden brown roux (approx, 30 minutes). It should appear to be the color of peanut butter.
- Add the chopped yellow onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic to the roux and stir until soft.
- Add 4 cups of the reserved chicken stock and okra, tomatoes, sausage, and all herbs/spices except for file powder. Cover partially and simmer until thickened (approx. 1.5 hours).
- Spoon off any fat from surface of gumbo.
- Add chicken and file powder and simmer 15 more minutes.
- Serve in bowls over steamed white rice.