This Mardi Gras Gumbo recipe has its roots deep in New Orleans and was inspired by Cajun and Creole cooks who really knew how to make a deep, dark, delicious and hearty gumbo.
Its origins reach back many decades and has evolved into a meaty dish that is very satisfying and so delicious that you will want to make it often.
I got this recipe from a friend who lives in New Orleans. She is a long time resident of the Garden District and lives in an old historic home. I received an invitation to dine with her and she graciously made this gumbo and shared her recipe with me.
This recipe became known
as the Mardi Gras Gumbo in her family because it was made often during
the Fat Tuesday Celebration in New Orleans. As the story goes, because
it contained lots of meat, it was reserved for special events due to the
cost of making it 50 or more years ago. Today cost is not a factor as
smoked meats and sausages are readily available everywhere at a nominal
cost. Over the decades, this gumbo recipe was tweaked, polished,
tested, served to families, diplomats and celebrities until it became the perfect blend of Cajun and Creole goodness using meats, spices, roux and love.
I was thrilled to get the invitation to dine on this delicious New Orleans style gumbo and I was not disappointed. As I watched my friend make the roux and assemble all the wonderful ingredients into the big pot, I knew it would be out of this world delicious. It was, and I feasted on it until I could hold no more.
Making a flavorful stock is a must for this recipe. It is really easy so don't skip this step. Using smoked turkey or smoked chicken as an added ingredient is critical to capturing the nuances in flavor needed in the dish. And be sure to include the two varieties of sausages called for in the ingredients. In fact do not omit any ingredients or steps to this recipe or you will miss the explosion of goodness this gumbo brings.
At my home we don't wait until Fat Tuesday rolls around every February. We make this Mardi Gras Gumbo year round for parties, holidays or anytime we are in the mood for Louisiana's favorite food.
It is incredible served with a spoon of potato salad instead of rice. Don't laugh! Potato salad in gumbo is a Louisiana tradition and tastes delicious. You have to try it to really experience the unique New Orleans and Cajun Country culture.
Now on to the recipe. Let's cook.
Ingredients for Mardi Gras Gumbo
For the stock
One large chicken (about 3 pounds)
1-1/2 pound smoked turkey thighs or legs
5 quarts water
1 whole onion quartered
4 stalks celery quartered
10 whole pepper corns
For the gumbo
3 quarts chicken stock
2-1/2 cups flour
2 cups corn oil or vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
4 large garlic cloves diced
1 pound smoked chicken or turkey sausage
1 pound andouille or lean smoked pork sausge
4 boneless skinless chicken breast haves cut into pieces
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Ragin Cajun Original Seasoning
1 bunch green onions chopped
Directions For Mardi Gras Gumbo
To make the stock put 5 quarts water into a large pot. Add the whole chicken, onion, celery, carrots and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes. Add smoked turkey and cook 1 hour more. Remove from heat, strain stock and reserve. Allow chicken and turkey to cool, then remove meat from bones and reserve.
To make the roux, place oil and flour in a heavy pot. Turn heat to high, stir well for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium while you continue to stir. Never stop stirring this mixture to avoid burning. Continue cooking as the roux browns all the while stirring making sure to reach all parts of the pot bottom. You want to brown this until it reaches a milk chocolate color. For complete and detailed direction for making roux see these easy instructions.
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When the roux reaches the milk chocolate color add chopped onions, celery and green pepper. Stir well and cook on low heat for 10 minutes stirring often making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot.
Add the stock one ladle at a time stirring well until all stock is added. Next add garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes, salt and Cajun seasoning. Stir well. Cook on low heat for 15 minuties.
While this is simmering cut both sausages into slices and brown in a heavy pot using 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until the pieces are evenly browned.
Add the browned sausage, stir and cook for 30 minutes. Add uncooked chicken breast pieces and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour on low heat.
Skim off oil that floats to the top using a large spoon. Do this several times during the cooking process.
Add deboned chicken and smoked turkey you held in reserve from the stock and cook 15 minutes more. Remove from heat, cover and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
Serve over cooked rice and top with chopped green onions as a garnish. A ratio of 1/4 cup rice to 1 cup gumbo is about right. I sometimes use brown rice instead of white rice for the extra flavor and firm texture.
For extra WOW factor serve a spoonful of potato salad instead of rice in the gumbo. Be careful though as this can knock your socks off it is so good.
This Mardi Gras Gumbo recipe will serve 12-15 people. Serve with toasted french bread and a fresh garden salad.