The origins of Gumbo Ya Ya
Gumbo Ya Ya was first coined by the influential Chef Paul Prudhomme who was the first American born Executive Chef of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. It is arguably one of the most famous dishes to come out of Louisiana. Gumbo is a derivative of the West African word for okra, suggesting this was the primary ingredient. The Choctaws were the first to add filé (dried and ground sassafras leaves), adding to the complex flavor of the dish.
There are many options for the principal ingredient, including chicken, ham, oysters, turkey, wild turkey, squirrel, rabbit, beef, veal, crabs, soft-shell crabs, shrimp, greens, and cabbage. Some types of gumbo are made with okra, others with filé. I add a little of both because I like the taste of each. The ingredients are easy to gather, and other than the slow process of making the roux, the recipe is pretty simple.
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo aka Gumbo Ya Ya
Gumbo Ya Ya is a version of Creole/Cajun Gumbo with chicken and andouille sausage. While there are many types of gumbo with varying ingredients, this one is the most famous. If you have leftovers, the gumbo tastes even better heated up the next day. This dish also freezes exceptionally well for later use.
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil or rendered duck fat
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken, boneless/skinless thighs cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken boneless/skinless breast cut into cubes
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 pinches all purpose flour (for dusting chicken)
- 4 cloves garlic, large sliced very thin
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 whole green bell pepper, diced
- 1 whole jalapeno, pepper stemmed, seeded and diced
- 1 whole poblano pepper stemmed, seeded and diced
- 1 whole onion, peeled and diced
- 2 whole bay leaves or 1 tbsp of ground bay leaf
- 2 tsp cayenne, ground
- 1 tbsp kosher or sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp black course ground pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp file powder (otherwise known as ground sassafras leaves)
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme stemmed/chopped can substitute dried
- 1 tsp fresh oregano stemmed/chopped can substitute dried
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Crystal or Tabassco hot sauce, or your favorite hot sauce
- 12 cups chicken stock, preferably roasted but regular will do
- 1 lbs andouille sausage, cooked, cut in half and sliced
- 1/3 cup parsley, Italian, fresh, minced
- 24 oz okra, fresh or frozen cut into 1/2 inch slices (fresh will take a bit longer to cook than frozen)
- scallions, finely chopped for garnish
- rice, white cooked
Remove any chicken fat or skin from the boneless chicken and cut the meat into cubes. Season with salt, black pepper and a pinch of flour and reserve.
Heat up a sauté pan with about 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Cook the meat in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until the chicken meat is slightly browned all over and reserve.
Chop the onion, celery and green peppers. Slice the garlic cloves very thin and reserve. Prepare all the dry spices (bay leaves, thyme, oregano, chili powder, file, mustard, cayenne, white pepper and paprika) and premix in a bowl.
Add the oil/duck fat to a heavy bottom large pot. Heat the oil until very hot, but not smoking. Add the flour and whisk in stirring constantly. Continue stirring for about 40 minutes to an hour until you’ve reach a very dark roux.
Once you’ve attained a dark, but not burned roux, whisk the vegetable mixture to the roux and continue to stir. Add the dry spice mix and the Crystal and Worcestershire sauce and stir to mix in. Let this season the roux while stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and whisk in to incorporate. Once the chicken stock has come up to a simmer (180-190 degrees), and thickened, add the chopped parsley, reserved chicken meat and the sliced andouille sausage. Reduce the heat to medium (170 degrees) and allow the gumbo to cook together for 5-10 minutes. Add the cut okra and stir to mix in. Cook the gumbo for another 10-15 minutes over medium heat or until the okra is very tender. Reduce the gumbo to serving temperature (150 degrees) for service.
Serve the gumbo over cooked white rice and top with additional rice and chopped scallions.
Modern restaurants prepare the roux in the oven as a short cut for the long stirring time. I would suggest you try the original way before using the other methods, to get a baseline for the flavor.