This great chicken file gumbo recipe comes from my maternal grandmother who declared the ingredients must be estimated to get this made right. You can use any meaty pieces such as legs, thighs or breast. Make sure to use pieces with bones to extract the most flavor.
This recipe makes me think of my father too as he always kept a bottle of ground sassafras leaves on the table. It was for his Louisiana Cajun soup and was added to the bowl after being served over rice. Try this great recipe to experience a taste of real Louisiana bayou cooking and New Orleans cuisine.
If you will serve the entire pot in one meal you can add and stir in the file' (ground sassafras leaves) when you put in the oysters. Otherwise, add it to the bowl after serving. Boiling ground sassafras in the gumbo mixture will decrease the thickening effect and loose flavor.
This chicken file gumbo recipe uses bacon drippings in the roux and will add a very nice flavor. But you can substitute vegetable oil (corn oil is best) if you do not want to use the bacon fat.
Chicken File Gumbo
3 pounds meaty poultry pieces
2 large onions chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup green pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic diced
2 cups sliced andouille (or any lean smoked sausage)
1 cup smoked ham cut into bite size pieces.
3 cups cut okra (frozen okra works great)
2 ripe tomatoes chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning or 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
2 bay leaves
3 quarts water
1 cup flour
3/4 cup bacon fat (vegetable oil can easily be substituted)
2 dozen oysters
1/2 teaspoon File' (per serving)
6 eggs (optional see cooking directions)
Place the water, all meat, okra, onion, celery, tomatoes and seasonings in a large heavy pot. Cook for 2 hours to extract the maximum flavors from the bones. Remove the poultry, de-bone and return to pot. Reserve all stock meat and cooked vegetables.
In a heavy bottomed pot, preferrably cast iron mix flour and bacon fat to make a roux. Brown it to a milk chocolate color and add to your pot of cooked ingredients and reserved stock and cooked vegetables. Simmer for 45 minutes. Put in oysters and cook on low heat for 5-6 minutes.
Serve over cooked rice and add 1/4 teaspoon file' (ground sassafras leaves) and stir to blend. Add a few drops of Tabasco. Goes great with hot toasted french bread. This should serve 10 people.
To kick this chicken file' gumbo up a level add fresh eggs (one
per diner) to the pot when you add oysters. Cover and allow to poach for
5 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand for 10 minutes. This is an old
Cajun tradition and egg lovers will absolutely adore this. Of course
this is optional but I do it every time.