Filé Gumbo

"Gumbo, the ultimate Cajun food. It's really just a thick stew served with rice, and isn't nearly as difficult or exotic as some TV chefs will make you think it is. Here's the simple, home cooking version my family actually cooks in Louisiana. This recipe uses chicken and sausage, but you can use anything that swims, flies, walks or crawls. Shrimp, alligator, turkey, ham, anything you like. This one is also a filé (sassafras powder) gumbo, which means no okra. If you prefer okra, you can add some, I just don't really like it that much if it's not fried. If you can't find filé in your area, it can be mail ordered, or you can leave it out, but the results will not be as good without it."
photo by Lavender Lynn photo by Lavender Lynn
photo by Lavender Lynn
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Ready In:




  • Cook chicken if it's not already cooked. Leftovers work fine for this. Set aside.
  • Place sausage in a large stockpot over medium high heat, and cook until lightly browned, and some oil is released. Set aside with chicken.
  • Add 2 tbsp oil to pot, and saute onion, bell pepper, and celery until soft. Add garlic in the last few minutes. Set vegetables aside with chicken and sausage, wipe stockpot to remove any vegetable pieces.
  • Add 1/4 cup oil to pot, and allow to heat over medium until it starts to "shimmer". Add flour, and cook, stirring constantly until the flour and oil mixture takes on a rich brown color. If I'm using sausage or ham, I like to do a chocolate colored roux, for seafood and poultry, I like a caramel color. Use your own judgment.
  • When your roux is as you like it, add the chicken broth (You may sub seafood broth, or turkey stock, depending on your ingredients) stir constantly while adding broth to avoid lumps. You should have something resembling a thin gravy.
  • Add meats and vegetables back to pot, add cajun seasoning. (I like Tony Chachere's, but you can use any kind you like. If this ingredient is not available in your area, several good ones have been posted to Zaar.).
  • Simmer your gumbo for half an hour, or more if you like, keeping the heat low to avoid breaking the roux. This gives time for the flavors to mingle. If you're using a delicate shellfish, like shrimp, add it later in the simmer to avoid toughening it.
  • When ready to serve, add hot sauce and filé, stir well, and ladle over a bowl of rice. Keep the filé, hot sauce, and Cajun seasoning out on the table, so diners may add more of any they like. This is wonderful accompanied by a loaf of crusty French bread and a crisp salad.

Questions & Replies

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  1. We followed the directions exactly as written. We thought the gumbo was good, but the file seemed to overpower the rest of the dish. I have a gumbo file from Penzey's. Later, when DH took a look at the recommendations on our Penzey's bag, it suggested about 2-3 tsp for the amount of stew listed in the recipe, versus tablespoons. Perhaps that file is more concentrated? Don't know, but I would try it again using tsp for Tb and see if we enjoy it more. Thanks!
  2. This was our first Gumbo experience also. I loved it but my poor husband can only handle hot spicy food. Black peppers about his limit and nothing beyond. I used Hillshire Farm's Hot Links Smoked Sausage with Chile Peppers so I did not add the hot pepper sauce. I did not have any Cajun seasoning so I made my own using spices from Penzey and Recipe #14190 recipe from Mirj. The Gumbo file was fun to stir in. As it thicken, it also turned the Gumbo a greenish color. I'd like to make this again for some friends that enjoy the heat as much as I do. Made during * Zaar World Tour 5* 2009 game for team *Genies of Gourmet*
  3. I've never had gumbo before, always wanted to, now intend to have more! This is good stuff! We used prawns and a ring of smoked sausage, and served it with black-eyed peas and white rice. The texture and color of the file-thickened sauce took us by surprise; some liked it, one didn't. Pretty much we'd never had anything like this, so aside from being delicious, the adventure was worth the effort. Made for Zaar World Tour 5.
  4. My boyfriend took one bite of this and said, "Wow! This is the best gumbo I'd ever had!" I did have some Cajun seasoning and gumbo filé from Penzeys. I served with this a homemade French baguette. Made for ZWT5: French/Cajun/Creole.


I work in the lab of a large county hospital. Cooking, particularly exotic ethnic cuisines and fancy desserts is my therapy and stress relief. Being a geeky kind of person, I'm really into the science of food. I'm getting into playing cooking games and contests on 'Zaar. Why not come play with us? It's lots of fun. <img src=""> <img src=""> <img src=""> <img src=""> <img src=""> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"> <img src=""border="0" alt="Photobucket"> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"> <img src=""> <img src=""> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"width=100%> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"> <img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket">
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