The origins of Gumbo Ya-Ya
Gumbo Ya-Ya was first coined by the influential Chef Paul Prudhomme, 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) 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. In addition, some types of gumbo, most 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.
Wine Pairings: Spanish Garnacha (Grenache), French Rose, Pilsner Beer, or German Riesling
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo aka Gumbo Ya Ya
- heavy bottom large pot with a lid
- chef knife
- cutting board
- measuring cups and spoons
- wire whisk
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil or rendered duck fat
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ lbs chicken, boneless/skinless thighs cut into cubes
- 1 ½ lbs chicken boneless/skinless breast cut into cubes
- 1 lb andouille sausage, cooked, cut in half, and sliced
- 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tsp salt, kosher
- 2 pinches all-purpose flour (for dusting chicken)
- 4 cloves of garlic, large sliced very thin
- 3 stalks of 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, white or yellow, peeled and diced
- 2-3 whole bay leaves or 1 tbsp of ground bay leaf
- ⅓ cup parsley, Italian, fresh, minced
- 2 tsp cayenne, ground
- 1 tbsp kosher or sea salt
- 1 ½ tsp pepper, black course ground
- 1 ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 ½ tsp filé powder (otherwise known as ground sassafras leaves)
- 1 ½ tsp fresh thyme stemmed/chopped can substitute dried
- 1 tsp fresh oregano stemmed/chopped can substitute dried
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp paprika, sweet
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Crystal or Tabasco hot sauce, or your favorite hot sauce
- 24 oz okra, fresh or frozen cut into 1/2 inch slices (fresh will take a bit longer to cook than frozen)
- 12 cups chicken stock, preferably roasted but regular will do
- scallions, finely chopped for garnish
- rice, white cooked
Cook the Chicken
- 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.
Prep the Vegetables and Measure Out the Seasonings
- 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. Reserve
Making the Roux
- To make the roux, start with 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 reached 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 Reserved Ingredients
- 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°F or 75°C) and let the gumbo 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 tender. Reduce the gumbo to serving temperature (150°F or 65°C) for service.
Serving Gumbo Ya-Ya
- Serve the gumbo over cooked white rice and top with additional rice and chopped scallions.