It’s Mardi Gras!  Get a jump on your Fat Tuesday celebration with a gumbo recipe you can make now and finish later, while you’re getting your party started, on Tuesday.  If you can’t make this recipe ahead, it is just fine to do it on the day you plan to serve it, but typically, on Tuesday night, my enthusiasm for making my own gumbo can falter so much that I have been known to reach for a box of Zatarain’s.

Gumbo is not hard to make.  If you can chop and stir, you can make gumbo.   Grab your best Zydeco CD, or cue up some Mardi Gras music on Pandora, so you can feel the carefree breeze of the Mississippi and think about the time you ate beignets, twice, in one day.  (What happens in New Orleans stays in New Orleans…)   Now that you’re nice and relaxed, start by chopping your bell pepper, celery, onion and garlic.  Make your roux, add all the chopped ingredients and seasonings and you’re done.  On Tuesday, simply reheat and add your cooked chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage and okra.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Make Ahead Gumbo

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chopped onion 
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken or shrimp stock, plus possibly 4 more cups of broth or water 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon Poultry or Seafood Magic, or Joe’s Stuff*
  • 1 teaspoon liquid Crab Boil (optional)
  • 3 links andouille sausage, cut into pieces 
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined 
  • 1 bag frozen okra
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • hot, cooked rice
  • filé powder
  • Tabasco, or other hot pepper sauce 

Heat a cast iron frying pan over medium heat.  As the pan warms add oil and whisk in flour to make roux.  Whisk continually (or at least very, very frequently!) until the roux becomes a dark brown, melted chocolate-like color, about 2 Zydeco songs.  Do not leave that roux unattended!  While it is cooking, don’t look away or stop stirring, because it will burn.  Once it has reached that nice brown color, add onion and sautè until soft.  Add green pepper and celery and cayenne, and cook 5 minutes, stirring often.

Transfer to stockpot.  Add tomatoes, garlic, lemon zest, pepper, stock, bay leaves, and thyme.  Season with Poultry or Seafood Magic, or Joe’s Stuff, and add liquid Crab Boil if using.  Simmer 40 minutes and add more seasoning to taste.  Let cool and ladle into containers to refrigerate or freeze.

Final Prep:

Brown andouille sausage in a small bit of oil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add gumbo and cooked chicken and let warm, stirring occasionally.  Add additional stock or water, as much or as little as desired.  Add shrimp and as much of the frozen okra as you want closer to serving time, so they don’t become overcooked.  To serve:  spoon rice into bowls first, ladle gumbo over.  Garnish with fresh parsley and green onion.  Add filé powder at the table.


*Joe’s Stuff is a great, all purpose spicy seasoning.  I stock up when I’m in New Orlean’s, or you can mail order it.

I like to use everything in my gumbo, so I add chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage.  To keep this a little on the healthier side, I use chicken andouille, but you can use any good smoked sausage.

Some recipes don’t have the tomatoes, some don’t call for okra.  I like to use both.

If you can find filé, it’s nice to have it to add at the table

Be ready to add 2 – 4  more cups of stock or water.  Some recipes call for 8 cups broth, but they also have a lot more roux.  One class I took called for 1 cup each of flour and oil.  I have had really good results using just 3 tablespoons of each, which is what one recipe used that won first place at The American Heart Association Cookoff in January 1993.

I like to use Louisiana Hot sauce instead of Tabasco.  Once you get out of New Orleans, it can be hard to find, but some Walmart stores here carry it.

On Tuesday, I will post a picture of the finished gumbo.

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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