When we expect a crowd at our house, we either make jambalaya or gumbo. Gumbo is a dish commonly served in Louisiana kitchens, where we dish it up straight from the stove, saying “Help yourselves!”

With gumbo, it’s easy to add more water or broth to make it “stretch” for a crowd, and leftovers can be reheated and served the following day(s).

The history of gumbo is as colorful as Louisiana itself, and stories vary. The bottom line is that many different cultures have combined to create my childhood state, and those cultures have influenced the food we serve.

The word “gumbo” may have come from the Bantu word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo). While okra is often found in gumbo, our family prefers our gumbo sans okra (that means without). As for filé (or ground sassafras leaves), we keep a fresh stash on the table and folks can add as desired. (If you don’t have your own sassafras tree, you can find filé powder in the spice section of many grocery stores.)

That’s the magic of gumbo. There’s no right or wrong way to prepare this hearty stew. Just toss everything into a pot, add spice, and serve over warm Louisiana rice. Delish!



1 chicken

1 pound andouille sausage

2 bell peppers

4 stalks celery                                     

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons Cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

Pot of chicken broth (reserved from boiling chicken)

1 teaspoon filé powder

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 Tablespoons fresh thyme

Roux: equal parts oil and flour (1/4 oil and ¼ cup all purpose flour)



Remove entrails from chicken and discard.

Fill a large stockpot with water (adding generous shakes of salt and pepper to this stock). Boil the rest of the chicken (completely covered in water) for apx. 1 hour or until tender.

While chicken boils, slice one pound andouille sausage into ¼ inch slices and brown in a large cast iron pot over medium heat while stirring for consistency. Once browned on each side, remove sausage onto paper-towel lined plate (or brown paper bag) to absorb excess grease.

Make the roux: After removing the sausage, use the same cast iron pot to make the roux. Mix equal parts oil and flour over medium heat. Stir constantly until it reaches the color of a penny (copper brown), but do not burn. (If the roux burns, toss that batch and start anew.)

Meanwhile, dice the vegetables (garlic, onions, bell peppers, celery). Once the roux is brown, add the vegetables to the pot. Let it all cook down, stirring frequently, until this mixture reaches a “mushy” consistency. This should take approximately thirty minutes.

Once chicken is tender, remove from broth and let cool.

Use a separator to skim oil from broth, reserving the broth and discarding the oil. 
Debone chicken and discard skin.

Slowly add de-greased broth to the roux-vegetable mixture while stirring.

Add cooked chicken and sausage, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and filé powder. Let simmer until ready to serve. The longer it cooks together, the more flavor it will have.

Serve over cooked rice with a dash of tabasco and filé powder to taste. Serve with French bread, crackers, or potato salad.

Potato Salad


3 pounds red new potatoes (or fingerlings), unpeeled

1 Tablespoons white wine vinegar (more or less)
2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (more or less)
1 teaspoon local honey (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


Cover potatoes with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil with 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes, then drain.

Whisk together mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. (Optional: You may also add a little olive oil, whisking to emulsify.)

Halve potatoes and add to vinaigrette, tossing to combine. Serve warm either in the gumbo bowl or as a side.