Donavan’s Gumbo Recipe – interpreted by Diana

Donavan brought in Gumbo to share on his 2nd day of employment with us and it was love at first Gumbo bite.  He promised us the recipe...and a year and a half later we finally got it! 😀

I made a version of Donavan's Gumbo recipe last week for a Mardi Gras celebration we had in the office.  I say a version of Donavan's because, for those of you that know me, apparently I'm incapable of sticking to one recipe and need to watch 10 different how to videos and study 16 different recipes and then create something similar.  Donavan's recipe is tried and true from his Louisiana roots...so feel free to follow it to a tee.

Donavan’s Gumbo Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium Yellow Onions
  • 2 Large Bell Peppers
  • 4-5 Stalks of Celery
  • Boneless Skinless chicken thighs (at least 10)
  • 2-3 links of Smoked sausage (andouille, kielbasa or polish or any kind of sausage you like)
  • 2 - 32oz cartons chicken stock/broth
  • 1 jar of pre-made roux (you can make fresh but it take almost an hour and tastes the same) (Donavan recommends Kary's brand or Savoie's brand - available on Amazon)
  • Creole seasoning (Donavan recommends Tony Chachere's)
  • Potato salad (Donavan typically uses pre-made potato salad because it's not the star of the show)
  • Green onions for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Dice onion, Bell pepper, and Celery – Set aside
  2. Slice sausage at an angle, season with creole seasoning and sear them in a pan to crisp the edges slightly.
  3. Season the chicken thighs with creole seasoning and sear both sides in a hot pan.  Continue to cook them through. Chop up the chicken and set aside.
  4. Add ½ to ¾ of the jar of roux to a large pot and start warming until its hot all the way through and all the clumps are broken up.
  5. Once the roux is piping hot and smooth, add the diced vegetables to it and stir until it is all combined. The roux will likely get powdery and super thick – this is normal.
  6. Cook this mixture until the veggies begin to soften. You’ll want to stir constantly so the roux doesn’t burn.
  7. Once veggies are soft, slowly start to incorporate the chicken stock. Pour a third of a carton in at a time and mix until its combined. The idea here is to make sure the roux is mixing in really well with the liquid.
  8. Once the stock is all combined, add one more full carton of water.
  9. Bring mixture to a boil.
  10. Once at a rolling boil add chicken and sausage and bring to boil again.
  11. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and let simmer for at least 2 hours.
  12. Cook enough rice for however many people will be eating.
  13. To serve, Add a scoop of rice to bowl, then 1-2 scoops of gumbo.
  14. Best when you add a dollop or two of potato salad right into the bowl and eat together – I encourage everyone to at least try it once (this is a must!  the sweetness of the potato salad pairs nicely with the slight heat/richness of the gumbo)
  15. Garnish with scallions.

The first time I made "Donavan's recipe", I didn't realize that his favorite versions of store bought roux aren't easily accessible in Minnesota so after watching a Youtube video of America's Test Kitchen making a dry roux in the oven, I had to give it a try!  I have to say how weird it was putting 2 cups of flour dry in the oven at 425 degrees!  I stirred it every 10 minutes and pulled it out when it's cinnamon color matched what showed in their video (note to self: it does get a little smoky in your house).

I also used more onion (5 medium total) and green bell peppers (3 total), celery (6 stalks total) and about 16 cloves of minced garlic (no lie), along with 4 bay leaves, additional onion powder, garlic powder, gumbo file seasoning and creole seasoning and 40 grinds of fresh black pepper to get the right flavors that worked for me.  If I'm being honest, my Husband (Tom) and daughter (Katie) greatly helped in dialing in the flavors perfectly.

I also used 3 full cartons of chicken bone broth (versus adding water).

Although it pained me greatly to not make home made potato salad (sorry Mom)...I purchased one from Cub that was a "deviled egg" potato salad that was mustardy with a hint of sweetness and it worked great.  It took me 5 hours to make my first batch of gumbo so super glad I didn't have to make potato salad after that marathon.

The gumbo was a BIG hit at the office and there weren't any leftovers, so 3 days later I made another batch of Gumbo...but this time I wanted to prove to myself that I could make a traditional roux!  45 minutes later at the stove, my roux was a tad darker than the dry flour roux version but incorporated nicely and had a slightly deeper, richer flavor.

The second time around I used andouille and polish and took a rotisserie chicken, pulled it all off the bone, put the chicken carcass and skins in the 3 cartons of chicken broth and boiled it to get a richer flavor of broth and then strained it before adding to the roux.  I thought the rotisserie chicken option was super easy and just as tasty.

You can hardly go wrong with this...except don't burn the roux...then all bets are off.  Just get cookin!  Let us know how your Gumbo turns out!