This classic New Orleans specialty is built on a roux — a cooked mixture of fat and flour that must be stirred constantly, sometimes for an hour or more, until it is deep brown.
To get the same depth of flavor with much less hands-on work, we turned to a dry roux: We toasted the flour alone in the oven until it was the color of cinnamon. Using our Dutch oven prevented hot spots and encouraged even toasting. Whisking half of the broth right into the toasted flour avoided clumps and made it easy to incorporate into the gumbo.
Rich and flavorful boneless, skinless chicken thighs and andouille sausage were the proteins favored by tasters. For the sake of efficiency, start toasting the flour in the oven before prepping the remaining ingredients.
We strongly recommend using andouille, but in a pinch you can substitute kielbasa, if desired. Be sure to whisk the broth into the toasted flour in small increments to prevent lumps from forming. Serve over white rice.
CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE GUMBO
Start to finish: 2 hours
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth, room temperature
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
8 ounces andouille sausage, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 scallions, sliced thin
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 F. Place flour in Dutch oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until color of ground cinnamon, 40 to 55 minutes. (As flour approaches desired color, it will take on very nutty aroma that will smell faintly of burnt popcorn, and it will need to be stirred more frequently.) Remove pot from oven. Transfer flour to medium bowl and let cool. Wipe pot clean with paper towels.
Heat oil in now-empty pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in thyme, garlic, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups broth. Nestle chicken into pot in single layer (chicken will not be completely submerged in liquid) and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until chicken is fork-tender, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks.
Meanwhile, slowly whisk remaining 2 cups broth in small increments into toasted flour until thick, smooth, batter-like paste forms. Increase heat to medium and slowly whisk paste into gumbo, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding next. Stir in andouille. Simmer, uncovered, until gumbo thickens slightly, 20 to 25 minutes.
Stir chicken and scallions into gumbo. Off heat, stir in vinegar and season with salt to taste. Discard bay leaves. Serve, passing hot sauce separately.