Gumbo Recipe (Traditional Cajun Version)

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Cajun seasoning – If the Cajun seasoning you have is salted, you can still use it! Just reduce the amount of salt you add while tasting at the end. To make your own Cajun seasoning for this recipe, combine 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon onion powder, 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, and 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme.

Filé powder – Filé powder, also known as gumbo filé, is an herbal powder made of ground-up sassafras leaves, a common herb found in Southern cooking. It has a tea-like, earthy smell that balances out the rich flavors of gumbo while also adding a natural thickener. Filé powder can be found in most spice sections of large grocery stores (most likely Zataran’s brand of gumbo filé). If you can’t find filé powder, no worries. Your gumbo will still be rich with flavor.

Shrimp: Seafood is more common to Creole gumbos (which is the French version including tomatoes and butter) but can certainly be added to this classic Cajun recipe. If using shrimp instead of the chicken and sausage, add 1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp during the last 10 minutes of the final simmering stage. If adding to chicken and sausage, use only 8 ounces.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are more common to Creole gumbos (which is a variation of gumbo with richer ingredients like butter and seafood, adapted by the French). I personally love tomatoes in gumbo because it adds a savory umami flavor and a natural thickener that replaces okra. If you’d like to add tomatoes to this recipe, purée 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes and add to the pot at the same time the sausage and chicken are added. No need to reduce the amount of chicken broth.

Okra: Okra is often added to gumbo in lieu of chicken and sausage in central and northern parts of Louisiana. Its slimy consistency is a natural thickener for gumbo. If you are a fan of the vegetable, add 8 ounces okra cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces to the pot when the garlic mixture is added.

Make ahead: Gumbo can definitely be made ahead and even tastes better the day after it’s cooked. Cool then refrigerate the entire pot, covered, for up to 2 days. Reheat over low heat.

Storage: Refrigerator leftover gumbo in airtight containers for up to 5 days.

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