There must be a thousand variations of New Orleans's famous stew, but through the years I've stuck with a method learned in "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen" (William Morrow, 1984). It has never let me down. I think of gumbo as happy food, celebratory enough for a Mardi Gras crowd, hearty and heartening for everyday winter meals.
One thing about making gumbo: very high heat is involved so caution is advised. Read through the instructions and have all ingredients lined up and ready before beginning to cook.
Mix first three ingredients in a large bowl. Mix bay leaves and seasonings in a small bowl. Bring chicken stock to simmer and keep it warm.
Turn on your stove’s exhaust fan, if you have one, or open a window in your kitchen. Heat oil in a large, cast-iron or other heavy pot over highest heat until it just barely begins to smoke, 3-4 minutes. Wearing oven mitts to avoid getting spattered, add flour gradually, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk carefully, but swiftly and constantly, until mixture is dark brown, 2-4 minutes. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in about 2 cups of the mixed vegetables; cook and stir 1 minute. Add remaining vegetables; cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in seasoning mixture and minced garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in warm stock and bring mixture to boil. Add sausage and ham; adjust heat and simmer hard 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let gumbo stand at least 30 minutes (or let it cool down and refrigerate it several hours or overnight). Skim off surface fat.
For each serving, ladle it over hot white rice and garnish with green onions.
Copyright by Terese Allen