Madonna’s Gumbo for Mardi Gras

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No, not that Madonna.  I doubt she cooks.  But this Madonna does.  I met Madonna from Indiana through this blog.  We trade emails and recipes frequently, and her recipes are always mouth-watering.  When Madonna mentioned she was making gumbo for a group of her friends on Mardi Gras this Tuesday, I asked her if she would share her recipe with all of you.  Not only that, Madonna shared that she plays New Orleans music from Louis Armstrong, Neville Brothers, and Dr. John while preparing her roux.  I think that’s a must.

Madonna’s Gumbo

1 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil because it changes the flavor)
1 cup flour
2 large onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 quarts chicken stock (more if needed)
1 large chicken cut into serving pieces, patted dry, sprinkled with 2 teaspoons (more if needed) Creole Seasoning (Zatarain’s, Tony Chachere’s, or Emeril’s) and lightly browned in vegetable oil
2 pounds andouille or highly seasoned smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch  thick slices
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste (about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper)
2 cups sliced okra
File powder, to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving
For garnish:  chopped fresh parsley and sliced scallions

1.  To make the roux:  Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven.  Stir in the flour and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the roux turns a deep reddish-brown color.  If it starts to darken too quickly, lower the heat. 
2.  Stir in the onions, peppers, celery, and garlic; cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
3.  Stir in the chicken stock, chicken pieces (prepared as instructed above), sausage, bay leaves, and thyme.  Add the salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook for 1 hour.  Taste for seasoning occasionally, adding more salt and pepper, if needed, and skim off any fat that accumulates. 
4.  After the gumbo has cooked for an hour, add the okra.  Cook for another half hour or so.  Remove the bay leaves.  Stir in the file powder to taste.* (see note)
5.  Serve gumbo over cooked white rice.  Garnish with chopped parsley and sliced scallions, if desired.  Serve with lots of crusty French bread to soak up all the delicious broth!  Serves 8-10.

*  Note:   Stir in the file powder only at the end of cooking time.  If you know you are going to have leftovers, remove the extra gumbo from the pot before adding the file powder.  When you reheat the leftovers, the file powder can then be added. 

Madonna says that if one truly hates okra, it can be omitted.  (To me, there is nothing like fresh okra.  I learned to love it when I lived in Oklahoma)

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