This recipe will feed 8-10 people and is a hit whenever I cook it.
1 fryer cut in pieces like frying chicken
2 lbs. good quality smoke sausage----don't go bargain basement here
2 onions diced
1 bell pepper diced
2 ribs celery diced
6 cloves garlic minced fine
1 bunch green onions chopped
1/4 bunch parsley chopped
1 large can (28-30 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
1 lb. okra sliced in 1/2" rings---fresh is good, frozen works well too
3-4 Bay leaves
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp. hot sauce of your choosing
1 cup oil for frying down the chicken and making the roux. I use bacon
grease but veg. oil works fine.
1 cup All purpose flour. DO NOT use self rising flour.
1 gallon of water simmering to add to the roux. Never add cold water to
a roux as it will not blend properly.
Prep all vegetables and have ready when they are needed. Cut the chicken and season with salt, pepper and some garlic powder. Put the oil in the heaviest 5 qt. pot you own and heat on high. Add the chicken to the pot and cook long enough to just brown the skin. Do not crowd the chicken, it will take 2 shots to get the chicken browned. Remove the chicken when browned and set aside.
Now, add the flour to the oil and use a whisk or wooden spoon to stir it into the oil. This is the start of the all important roux and it will need to be stirred constantly to prevent burning. You will likely need to lower the fire a bit and the consistency you want is similar to pancake batter. You may need to add a little oil or flour to achieve the consistency. Cook the roux until it reaches the color of a pair of dark brown shoes. (Sorry, that's the best description I can come up with.) Too high a fire can burn the roux, it will smoke a bit while cooking and that is OK. Burnt roux is no good and you will need to start over---so be careful.
Once the roux reaches that color, add the onions, bell pepper and celery and mix it thoroughly. The roux will likely ball up a bit and darken even further with the vegetables but not to worry, they will start to wilt and release some liquid. Cook this for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Next, add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes more. Now, add 1/2 the water to the roux and mix thoroughly to blend it all together. Once that is done, add the diced tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, green onions, parsley, bay leaves and put the chicken back in the pot. Use enough of the hot water to cover the chicken by at least 1 inch and bring the pot back to a slow boil. Cook this for 1 1/2 hrs.
While the gumbo comes back to a boil, put a pot of water on the stove with just enough water to cover the okra by 2 inches and boil it for 20 minutes or so. This process removes a good bit of the slime from the okra. Place the boiled okra in a sieve and rinse with cold water a couple times. Put the okra back into the pot it was cooked in and mash it a bit to break it up. It will still appear slimy but that is actually what is going to thicken the gumbo and will cook away over time. This needs to cook for another hr. once in the pot
After the chicken has been cooking in the pot for the first 1 1/2 hrs. it will be ready to remove and set aside to cool. Also remove any skin that has fallen off the chicken and now is a good time to skim off the excess oil from the top of the pot.
Slice the smoke sausage in 1/2' rings and add this to the pot after the chicken is removed. This step should be done before the pot returns to a boil once the okra is added and it will cook at the same time.
Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and cut or pull the meat into bite size pieces. Add this to the pot at the very end of the cooking time for the okra and smoke sausage. This will be the last step and you do not want to cook it further because the chicken will tend to break up under additional cooking.
To serve this dish, we in Louisiana do so over a bed of rice and some of us go as far as adding a nice scoop of potato salad to the top of the gumbo once in the bowl. It's good either way.
Helpful Hint: Gumbo is quite thick once the okra is added and the pot will need to be stirred frequently. I use a heat diffuser between the fire and bottom of my pot and that helps a great deal to prevent sticking with thick sauces and stews.