Chicken and andouille sausage are traditional ingredients in every good gumbo recipe but when you add crab, this gumbo goes from good to grand.
There are many stand-ins out there that simply don’t make the authentic cut. Cubic zirconium will never take the place of real diamonds and saccharin will never, ever, ever edge out the sweetness of real sugar.
But this gumbo recipe…now THIS gumbo recipe has no comparison. Gumbo may originally hail from Louisiana, but this recipe is the real-Southern-Delta-blues-gumbo-deal.
I was first introduced to this recipe for sausage and chicken gumbo when I visited one of my dearest friends at one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited, The Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, MS where the tagline is “The Ritz it ain’t”. Staying at the Shacks is like walking into a real life House of Blues bar with all the quirks the original sharecroppers experienced (plus internet and bathrooms) but none of the trappings of hotels, motels and inns of today (hotel bars and miles of hallways to get lost in).
Seriously folks, these are the original Airbnbs of the South.
My friend Laura was the proprietress of the restaurant, Rust at the Shack Up Inn
, and her long-time partner Guy is a co-owner of the Shacks and it’s collection of 10 authentic share-cropper shacks that have been barely renovated to become a true Mississippi delta destination for blues fans and travel enthusiasts alike. This recap from The Huffington Post sums it all up pretty darn well.
One of the dinners we had while we were there included a big bowl of gumbo. While this was my first trip to the South and the Mississippi Delta, it was definitely not my first time having gumbo. Over the years I’ve become somewhat of a gumbo geek and have to try it every chance I get.
But Laura’s chef’s version of gumbo was a stunner and exceeded all my expectations. Well, not really. I KNEW I was going to get a great gumbo in the Mississippi Delta. And that’s why I KNEW I needed this recipe in my kitchen.
Thankfully, the chef kindly delivered.
As any great gumbo gourmet will tell you, the secret to the best gumbo lies in its roux and developing it’s dark, rich, nearly chocolate-like flavoring that permeates this Southern stew. This roux is made from bacon grease and flour and is slowly cooked and stirred every 5 minutes. Plan on setting aside at least an hour for this step because low and slow is the name of this game and you do not want a bitter, burnt roux.
Chicken and sausage are staples in gumbo and sometimes shrimp is tossed in, or make that always added in if I’m cooking it. But this time around we had some leftover crab in the fridge so added that instead.
I buy frozen okra because it’s firmer than the canned kind and gives a tastier bite. It’s actually my favorite part of the stew so I usually double the called for amount. And I can do that, because I’m the gumbo boss.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
- ½ pound bacon to make 1 cup bacon grease (if you don't have enough grease add butter to make up the 1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or bacon grease
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups andouille sausage, sliced
- 1 cup flour
- ½ can beer of choice
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ gallon (96 ounces) chicken stock
- 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes or 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups stewed, shredded chicken
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 cups frozen okra
- 2 cups crabmeat
- Kosher salt, white pepper, lemon juice & Tabasco to taste
- Chopped green onions & rice for serving
- Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat and cook the bacon, set the bacon aside to drain and measure the bacon to 1 cup and reserve the rest for cooking the vegetables or another use. If you don't have enough bacon renderings melt enough butter to add to the bacon grease to make one cup. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil or bacon grease to the cast iron skillet you cooked the bacon in and cook the onion and bell pepper until soft and set aside. Cook the sausage in the same skillet until browned and add to the vegetables. Add the 1 cup of the bacon fat to the skillet over medium heat and stir in the flour. Lower the heat to low and cook for at least 1 hour, stirring every 5 minutes. The roux should be thick, but not chalky. A little grease will probably separate from the roux while cooking. When it is dark tan and smells like toasted nuts, it is done. Caution: The roux burns easily so watch it very carefully and stir often.
- In a large stock pot or dutch oven, add the sautéed vegetables and sausage and heat over medium high heat. Add the beer and stir to blend. Add the garlic and simmer for 2 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, vinegar, chicken, and all other dry ingredients. Simmer on low to medium heat for at least 1 hour.
- Add salt, white pepper, lemon juice & Tabasco to taste.
- Skim off about 3 cups of liquid from pot (with as few solids as possible) and combine in a bowl with about 1 cup roux. Stir until it thickens and becomes paste-like. Add about half this mixture back to pot on low heat. Stir well. Let simmer for a few minutes and add more roux mixture to thicken or water or stock to thin. The gumbo should be thick, but not as thick as gravy.
- Add half of the okra. Simmer on very low for at least 30 minutes. Be careful, as it can easily burn. Add the remaining cup of okra and the crab meat 5 minutes before serving.
- Taste again for salt, white pepper, lemon juice and Tabasco. Serve in bowls with rice and garnish with green onion.
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