New Orleans File Gumbo



  • 1 pound smoked sausage (or Creole, sliced ½" thick)
  • 1/2 pound baked ham (lean, cut into ½" cubes)
  • 1 fryer chicken (cut up)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (peeled)
  • 1/2 pound whitefish fillets
  • 1/2 cup green pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup scallions (thinly sliced green)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (finely minced)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (finely)
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • meat bones (1 lg. ham, cut into 3" lengths, optional)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons salt (less if cooking with ham bone)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons file powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram (dried)


  1. After assembling the ingredients for the gumbo base, heat the oil in a heavy 7-8 quart pot or kettle over high heat. Brown the chicken parts in the hot oil, turning several times to ensure even browning. When the chicken is brown, remove it to a hearted platter and place, uncovered, in a preheated 175 degree oven to keep it warm.
  2. Make the roux by gradually adding the flour to the oil in the pot, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat until a dark brown roux (the color of peanut butter) is formed. Do not try to hurry this step. The roux is the most important part of any gumbo base, and will take approximately 20-30 minutes of stirring to get it right. It's worth the wait.
  3. When the roux reaches the right color, quickly add the sausage, onion, green pepper, scallion tops, ham, parsley and garlic. Continue cooking over low heat for 10 minutes more, still stirring, then add 1/4 cup of the water, the reserved chicken pieces and all the seasonings except the file powder; mix thoroughly. Gradually stir in the rest of the water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the gumbo for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the chicken parts are tender.
  4. serving, bring the gumbo back to a boil and add the shrimp and fish. Simmer just until the shrimp turn pink, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the simmer die down. Add the file powder and stir. Let the gumbo stand in the pot for 5 minutes after adding the file, then serve in gumbo bowls or deep soup bowls over boiled rice.
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