Gumbo has been a Louisiana favorite for over a century. In my opinion, it’s the perfect fusion food. Gumbo is a perfect mix of French, West African, and American Indian Cuisine. Each culture in Louisiana made their contributions to this dish.
Two Categories of Gumbo
Gumbos have mostly been divided into two categories, those thickened with film and those thickened with okra. It is believed that okra is used in the summer when it is fresh and file during the winter months. I don’t buy that reasoning. If you’ve ever been in a room with Gumbo connoisseurs, a mighty big fight will usually break out over which is the “real” version of gumbo.
Although I use okra at times in gumbo, I particularly love the way filè tastes. It has a distinctive earthy flavor and adds color to the gumbo. Oftentimes folks will just thicken with a roux, but I do both for flavor and texture.
With gumbo’s popularity spreading to all of America, more variations of the dish are becoming popular. Most versions contain chicken, shrimp, and sausage, but sometimes we use duck, turkey, and pheasant. They tend to make their way into most hunter’s households. Again, gumbo is the perfect fusion food.
That’s where the black-eyed peas in this recipes come in. In Alabama, peas are quite proficient and plentiful. Black-eyed peas just seem to naturally come up in our dirt. They’re easy to harvest, shell, freeze, and dry which make them a staple on a Southerner’s table. Once you try gumbo with the black-eyed peas, you’ll always think something’s missing when they aren’t there.
Don’t forget to check out our hand-hewn gumbo paddle!! They age with the most beautiful patina and can be passed down through the generations along with the stories gathered with use.
Black-Eyed Pea Gumbo
1 cup vegetable oil
3 pounds Andouille sausage, cut crosswise 1/2-inch thick pieces
4 pounds chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large onions (about 8 cups), chopped
2 red bell peppers (about 2 cups), chopped
10 stalks celery (about 4 cups), chopped
14 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 pounds dried black-eyed
4 quarts chicken stock
4 pounds of shrimp (peeled, deveined, and shell removed)
1/2 cup chopped chives plus more for garnish, sliced thinly
1/4 cup parsley plus more for garnish, chopped
2 1/2 Tablespoons file powder
White Rice, recipe below
In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage to paper towels and allow to drain. Brown the chicken in batches, removing to a paper towel to drain.
Add the rest of the oil to the pot over medium-high heat . When the oil is smoking add the flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery and cook until the onions are translucent. Stir often for about 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, oregano, sausage, chicken, and black-eyed peas then stir for 2 more minutes.
Stirring, slowly add the chicken stock until well combined. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for one hour. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.
Add the shrimp, green onions, parsley, and file powder and stir until well combined. Serve over rice and garnish with the extra chopped chives and parsley. Season with Hot Sauce.
4 cups long-grain white rice
8 cups water
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon salt
2 bay leaves
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the simmer and cover for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from eh heat and allow the pan to remain covered for about 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the rice. Remove the bay leaf and serve.
Note: This recipes is best the day you cook it. It’s fine the second day, but the black-eyed peas make the gumbo a little creamy.