I did a food demonstration at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on July 6, 2008 and showed a group of people how I make a chicken gumbo in a hurry. I promised I'd post the recipe so here we go:

Emergency Chicken Gumbo

1 Jar Of Roux (Kary's, Savoie's Or Other)
2 Large Onions
1 Bell Pepper
1 Bunch Of Green Onions (Optional)
1 Bunch Of Parsley (Optional)
2 Bay Leaves
3 Cloves Of Garlic (not the whole Head, just the pod)
2 Rotisserie Chickens (the kind you buy cooked at the grocery)
4 Boxes Of Swanson's Certified Organic Chicken Broth
Black Pepper
Red Pepper

Use a large heavy pot (8 quart or so) like a cast iron dutch oven (no feet), le Creuset, or Magnalite.

First chop the onions, garlic and bell pepper into nickel size pieces and set aside. You can put them all in one bowl. if you're using the green onions, chop the white part in there too. Chop and save the green part for garnish on the gumbo when serving.

Put one half of a pint jar of prepared roux in the pot on medium heat. It's sometimes hard like natural peanut butter so you need to let it heat just a bit so it softens up a little, but it doesn't need to cook any more. When it's soft and runny, add the onions and stuff and stir it in. Let the mixture heat some more while the onions wilt some, then stir in a box of chicken broth. Cook's Magazine says that Swanson's Certified Organic is the best they tested so that's what I use. Stir it up so the roux starts to dissolve into the broth and thicken it. Then, stir in a second box of broth. Add the bay leaves and a handful of chopped parsley.

Take the meat off of the two rotisserie broiled chickens and add to the pot. I use whatever kind they have or mix them up (lemon, Cajun, BBQ). I just bone them straight into the pot and don't add much of the skin so there's less grease. Stir it up and let it cook on a low boil or high simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. If it seems too thick, add another box of broth or as much as you need to make it like a thick soup. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and black pepper. The rotisserie chickens are already seasoned so I don't add much. Don't be afraid of a little cayenne pepper, though. It's a big pot and it needs a little punch.

Serve in a shallow bowl over cooked rice with a sprinkle of green onion tops.

Special Notes:

First of all, at the top I mention that this is how I make this gumbo. Everyone has their favorite tricks and tips and should feel free to use them.

Some people like sausage in their gumbo. Some andouille sausage or a piece of smoked duck might be good. I'd brown the sausage in a separate skillet before I added it to the gumbo to get rid of some of the grease. Personally, I like to put oysters in my chicken gumbo. It's like a special little treat for me.

No, I didn't put in any okra but if I did, I would use less than a cup, chop it small like the onions and bell peppers and add it at the same time as them so it cooks down into the broth. I didn't use celery either. I don't like the texture. Heresy!

If you want to make your own roux, put a cup of vegetable oil (not olive) and a cup of flour in that heavy pot over medium high heat and start stirring. The texture should be like a paste that moves with the spoon but then flows back over the bottom of the pot. Keep stirring. What the demo at the Smithsonian proved was that I could put the whole emergency gumbo together before my able assistant, Katie, had finished browning the roux. Keep stirring. Also, it's a not too well kept secret that many home cooks and restaurants in Cajun country use a roux in a jar. Keep stirring. Is it the color of a Hershey bar? Keep stirring.

You can also cut up your own chicken and brown it in some oil in the big heavy pot before you use that oil to make your roux. Or, you can cut up your chicken and bake it in the oven and then add it to your gumbo.

Honestly, I've never done a side-by-side comparison of the three possible options mentioned here: emergency gumbo, homemade roux with pan browned chicken, homemade roux with oven baked chicken. I just know that when it's five o'clock in the afternoon and I get the "envies" for some gumbo, I'm going to reach in the pantry for a jar of roux and make some rice.

Here are some links for roux and other Cajun products:




If you just Google "roux in a jar" you get a lot of sites about Cajun cooking including accordion maker Marc Savoy talking about cooking. Have fun!

Copyright © 2008 Marcia Ball Band.
Last revised: September 28, 2008