Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo (Pressure Cooker)

Welcome to Missouri in March—yesterday it was 70 degrees, today it’s snowing.  Tomorrow, it will be 50 degrees.  The day after that?  Locusts, probably.  But we might as warm our bellies with some delicious gumbo while it stays cool outside!
I got a pressure cooker for Christmas last year, and imagine my joy to find a recipe for shrimp gumbo in the recipe booklet that came with it!  Since then, it’s been my new favorite way to make gumbo.  The shrimp version is much quicker, but I was craving chicken & sausage instead.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any time now, you know that I love to experiment with Cajun fusion dishes and making healthier versions of dishes… but when it comes to gumbo, I’m pretty much a purist.  Oh, sure, there was the gumbo risotto that one time (which was delish), but in general, I am a stickler:
  • Nothing WEIRD in the gumbo – if it contains corn, potatoes, carrots…essentially anything other than the Holy Trinity, okra & meat, it’s not a gumbo.  Throwing okra into a soup does not a gumbo make.
  • No tomatoes.  Gumbo should be roux-based and brown.  Tomato-based “gumbos” tend to be too thin & a bit acidic, in my opinion. 
  • If you can see through it, it’s not a gumbo.  A good gumbo should be as muddy as the Mighty Mississippi. 
That being said, there are always “bends” that can be made to the rules to make a good gumbo that’s still a bit “healthed up”.
  • Quality ingredients (use organic or home-grown peppers & celery if you can)
  • Use chicken breast rather than thigh meat to save on fat
  • Use good quality chicken or turkey sausage/andouille for the same reason
  • Use instant roux to save some extra fat as well
  • Serve with brown rice instead of white.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 6 large servings)
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 lb chicken or turkey smoked sausage (andouille if you can find it), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp olive oil (as needed)
  • 1 onion, diced (I used a mix of red & yellow)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used both red & green since that’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 large stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup instant roux
  • 2.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, unsalted (or 2 cups regular + 1 cup water)
  • 10 oz chopped okra, strung*
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or more to taste after cooking)
In your pressure cooker, brown the sausage over medium heat for about 4 minutes, then remove from the pot with a slotted spoon to reserve any of the oil from the sausage, and set aside.  Add the chicken to the pot—if the sausage was very lean, add a splash of olive oil to the pot to help the chicken brown without sticking.  Cook through (about 6 minutes).  Remove the chicken from the pot using a slotted spoon.  Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, 1/2 cup water and instant roux to the pot, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.
While that’s going, “string” (aka sauté) your okra.  This is a step taught to me by one of my regular customers at Martin’s in New Orleans.  Okra is inherently slimy once cooked, so it’s helpful to cook some of this sliminess out before adding it to your gumbo.  Place the okra in a large skillet over medium-low heat & stir occasionally.  Eventually, you’ll see “strings” of clear liquid forming between the pieces.  Cook for about 10 minutes, then you can add it to the rest of the ingredients.  The stringing process will likely brown the okra some, which only helps add to the flavor.
Add the meat, okra, stock, water and spices to the pot, stir, and place the lid on the pressure cooker.  Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, then remove from heat & allow to depressurize (about 15 minutes). 
Serve 1 cup gumbo w/ 1/2 cup of rice, with a side of potato salad (recipe coming soon), and hey, some pickled okra for fun.  And don’t forget the fresh French bread!
Calories 380.2
  Total Fat 10.5 g
  Saturated Fat 2.8 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 1.5 g
  Cholesterol 86.8 mg
  Sodium 998.8 mg
  Potassium 454.1 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 38.0 g
  Dietary Fiber 4.0 g
  Sugars 3.6 g
  Protein 33.8 g


  1. I'm a fellow Midwesterner and Cajun food lover. I have yet to try this recipe but recently discovered the wondrous pressure cooker. I do have a small bone to pick. More in jest than anything, but how does one claim to be pretty much a purist when it comes to gumbo, yet use an instant roux? Reminds me of the court scene in My Cousin Vinny "no self-respectin southerner uses instant grits." Haha. Seriously though, I'm looking forward trying gumbo in the pressure cooker. I'll make my roux from scratch though. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Touche sir! The original recipe that this is modified from had no roux whatsoever (as you can imagine, it would be difficult to make a roux using a presure cooker--you'd essentially just be making it first and then adding it in like the rest of the ingredients). Which, in my mind, gumbo is just soup without SOME sort of roux. Alas, between work and being a new mom, anything that saves me a little time and still yields a delicious and relatively healthy result is fair game. So that's why I go with the instant roux. (Sadly, I also have instant grits in my pantry. LOL)

  2. As for tomatoes, depends on where you're family. My family is from central Louisiana, and we do tomatoes. There is a difference between Cajun gumbo and Creole gumbo. Creole cooking tends to use tomatoes. Plus, tomatoes cut down on the slime from the okra.

  3. I also don't see filé as an ingredient. You need filé for it to be gumbo :)

    1. I was taught that you generally only add file if you're not using okra, since it acts as a thickening agent in the place of the okra.

    2. Roux, filé, and okra all are thickeners. Some say you should only use one in any given pot of gumbo. Others say use two and still others say use all three. Sounds like the cook's call to me (I generally use one or two but have been know to go full throttle on occasion).

    3. I'd say that's reasonable. The beauty of cooking is in the variety and love that people put into it, so long as the end result tastes good.

      ...but I still stand firm on one point---no carrots or potatoes in gumbo. :D

  4. I'm from Louisiana.... and I know "First you make a Rue"

  5. Instant roux has been a savior for making gumbo. As a dad of three, I don’t have time for making a 'real' gum, and so far it hasn't changed the flavor much. Tony's works well and almost tastes like a chocolate, vs my homemade poorly tasting clumpy nutty attempt at roux.

    1. Agreed! I now have a kid as well and instant roux is a lifesaver! Thanks for reading!