When making a gumbo, you have to start with the roux. It’s a combination of fat and flour cooked together to develop a deep flavor and color in the gumbo. I like to cook my roux for a long time so it gets really dark like the color of melted dark chocolate. A dark roux will always add some bitter notes to the gumbo, which gives it its distinct flavor that makes it world famous. Too much bitterness and the gumbo will not taste right. As a chef I teach that bitterness is balanced with sweetness which are the building blocks to a dish being complex and interesting. Vidalia onions are perfect for the gumbo because they allow the richness of the roux to shine and their sweetness tones down the bitterness. As you will see, I put lots of onions in this gumbo so they can work their magic and make a super delicious dish. Many people eat their gumbo with rice, but in west Louisiana you’ll find a tradition of using potato salad instead. I included a potato salad recipe, also with lots of these sweet beautiful onions.
Makes 6-8 servings
¼ cup canola oil
4 pounds chicken thighs, with the bones and skin in tactVidalia onion gumbo with potato salad
½ cup all purpose flour
6 Vidalia Onions or about 8 cups, medium diced
3 fresh bay leaves, or 2 dried
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 Tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons tabasco
1 Tablespoon worchestire sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6-8 teaspoons of file powder
- Place a dutch oven or thick bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the canola oil and let it heat up. Pat down the chicken thighs with a paper towel to dry, and place each one skin side down in the oil. Repeat until the bottom is covered in a single layer with some room in between the thighs. It may take two batches to get all the chicken to fit properly. Let cook for about 8 -10 minutes or until the skin has rendered out some of the fat and is golden brown. Flip over and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the thighs from the pot and set aside.
- Once all the chicken has been seared, turn down the heat to medium low and add the flour to make the roux. Use a wooden spoon or flat edged spatula to constantly stir for about 30-35 minutes, or until the roux is the color of melted dark chocolate. This takes patience, but I find it meditating and it’s essential for the flavor of the gumbo. You can cook the roux less, and the gumbo will have a milder flavor. Be sure not to let the roux burn.
- Add in the onions and keep stirring for an additional 15 minutes or until the onions have softened.
- Add in the thyme, paprika, black pepper, celery salt and garlic powder and stir for another minute or two.
- Add in the chicken broth, reduce the heat to low and let the gumbo simmer for an hour or until the meat is tender and beginning to fall off the bone.
- Season the gumbo with the tabasco, worchestire sauce, apple cider vinegar and salt.
- Place the gumbo in a serving bowl with a scoop of potato salad and a teaspoon of file powder sprinkled on top.
Vidalia onion and potato salad
Makes 6-8 servings
1 ½ pounds baby red potatoes
3 quarts of water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Vidalia onions or about 2 cups, diced small
1 tablespoon minced ginger
½ cup celery, diced small
½ Tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
½ cup Gherkin pickles, chopped
⅓ cup parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon tabasco
2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Place a large pot on the stove with the potatoes and water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and tender. Drain the potatoes and let sit until they are cool enough to handle, then cut into quarters.
- Place the cut potatoes in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix until everything is well combined.
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