As the holidays approach it is time for families to get together, enjoy good company and celebrate traditions. In our family, a tradition I enjoy is preparing the Christmas Eve meal with the kids. Nothing speaks more to family and tradition than a recipe passed down over the generations, and in our family that means our roux for the Christmas Eve gumbo. Its intoxicating smell, which will spread throughout the house, reminds me of being young in Louisiana, of fishing and hunting with my father, of my mother in the kitchen and my sister and I carefully following her instructions. A roux is something steeped in patience, a timeless part of southern cooking with a soul and essence all its own. A great roux requires attention, love, and the energy of young hands to turn a spoon over and over until the color consistency is just right. Following is my recipe for a Holiday gumbo, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has over the years.


4-5 pound chicken

1 pound smoked sausage (preferably andouille)

1 cup oil

1 1/2 cups of flour

2 cups diced onions

2 cups diced celery

1 cup diced bell peppers

1/4 cup minced garlic

3 quarts of chicken stock

24 button mushrooms

2 cups of sliced green onions

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of thyme

1 tbsp of chopped basil

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Hot sauce to taste.

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Cooked white rice

Boil chicken 1-2 hours before beginning gumbo. Reserve stock, bone chicken and use the meat and stock in the gumbo.

Cut sausage into 1/2 inch slices and set aside. In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium high heat. Whisk in flour, stirring CONSTANTLY until golden brown. This is your roux and your roux is key to a good gumbo. (A lighter roux makes for a good thickener but a darker roux gives you more flavor). Stir in your holy trinity (onions, celery, and bell pepper) and garlic. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Blend the chicken and sausage into the vegetable mixture, and sauté about 15 minutes. Add chicken stock one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and cook approximately 1 hour. Skim any fat or oil that rises to the top of the pot. Stir in mushrooms, green onions, bay leaf, thyme and basil. Season to taste using salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cook an additional 1-2 hours until chicken is tender and falling apart. Stir in parsley and adjust seasonings. Serve over white rice.

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