Prep 1 hr
Cook 48 hrs
Gumbo, which originated in New Orleans, is the most characteristic dish of the Crescent City. The filé gives that slippery smoothness to the dish which is so characteristic of gumbo. Sliced okra is used in other parts of the South to give practically the same quality, but filé belongs to Louisiana alone. Filé is a powder originally made by the Choctaw Indians from tender young sassafras leaves.
- 4 lbs stewing chicken
- 2 quarts water
- 1⁄2 lb ham, cubed
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 pint oyster, juice reserved
- salt (to taste)
- pepper (to taste)
- cayenne (to taste)
- 1⁄2 chili pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons file powder
- 2 cups rice, cooked
- Cut chicken in serving portions and simmer in salted water until tender.
- Remove bones and cut meat into cubes.
- Fry ham.
- Brown onions in ham fat.
- Combine chicken, ham, cooked onions and oyster juice; cover with boiling chicken stock.
- Add seasonings and chili pepper; simmer for two hours.
- About ten minutes before serving moisten filé powder with a little of the soup; add to soup along with the oysters.
- Do not cook after adding filé.
- Place a mound of cooked rice in each soup dish and ladle gumbo over the top.