Filé Gumbo Process   Leave a comment

GumboI’ve been wanting to write up my gumbo recipe for a while now. In part, to document it, but also to share it. I’ve never been big on “secret family recipes.” My recipe is one of my own devising, taking influences from a number of sources, including my mom, as well as a few other blogs.

The catch is, I’m not entirely sure I have a recipe. I put more or less the same stuff in my gumbo, and the process is more or less the same, but the recipe is very tolerant–I can add more of one thing one day, and less of it the next.

However, as my wife and I have been tracking what we eat, I was able to get a good feel for a baseline.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 61 ounces chicken broth (I use Swanson’s 99% fat free)1
  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 1/2 pound sausage (I use a light turkey sausage)
  • 1 bell pepper (approximately a half-pound)2
  • 3/4 small onion (four-tenths of a pound)
  • 4-5 celery stalks (a third of a pound)
  • Filé to taste3

Making the Gumbo

  1. Pour the broth into a large pot, along with the bay leaves. Bring to boil. Add some filé.
  2. Make a roux with the flour and olive oil. Basically, you are slowly browning the flour in the oil. I like to use a cast iron skillet over medium heat, whisking it in until it turns a brown about like milk chocolate. A good write-up on making a roux is here. Bottom line: it will take time to get it there. Add this to the broth.
  3. Cut the chicken into bites. Add to broth. It will be in there for at least an hour, so it will be fully cooked by the time you eat it.
  4. Dice the bell pepper, celery, and onion, and place in a mixing bowl.
  5. Slice the sausage, and place in skillet. Brown one side, then flip over and add the vegetables. Cook (stirring as needed) until onions turn translucent. Add to broth.
  6. Bring everything to a boil, add some water, then reduce heat to medium.
  7. Cook for sixty to ninety minutes, adding water and filé as needed. You’ll want a slightly thick liquid. Total volume should be around 16-20 cups.
  8. Serve over rice.4

1This works out to a 32 ounce “box”, plus two 14.5 ounce cans. Varying the amount to be two 32 ounce boxes (64 ounces total), or four 14.5 ounce cans (58 ounces total) would likely work well.
2Bell pepper, onion, and celery are called “trinity” in Cajun cooking. I’ve been known to dial up some of this, particularly the bell pepper, a bit. Green bell pepper is traditional, though I like to use red. It’s both visual interesting, and brings good flavor. Yellow works. Orange does, too, but looks funny (makes me think someone put carrots in my pot!)
3If I had to guess, I’d say I use 1-2 tablespoons of filé (pronounced fee-lay) over the course of the cooking, delivered a quarter-teaspoon at a time. No, I don’t actually measure it.
4This is not rice. DO NOT put my gumbo on that. Make some real rice. It is not that hard, and tastes so much better.

Posted 2013-11-23 by Mr. Guilt in food, Recipes

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