Quick, easy, & weeknight are NOT words associated with making a gumbo. But yes, you read that title right and yes it is true that you can make a quick & easy gumbo anytime you want. The trick is in the prep work & the technique.
First a disclaimer or 2… quick & easy are relative. So…
- By quick I mean much faster than it would take to make my normal gumbo recipe. 30 minutes or so (45 if you use brown rice)
- By easy I mean as easy as it can get with still having to make your own roux.
Normally it takes me hours to make gumbo because I like use dark meat chicken with the skin & bones. I season it & brown it in oil in a large pot – the pot the entire gumbo will be made in – then simmer it until the skin & bones fall away on their own, and shred or break it apart organically before adding other ingredients.
That part alone takes at least an hour or so. But it is SO worth it. The broth alone is liquid gold, it is so good.
While that magic is happening, I make a roux in a separate pan with high sides over medium-low heat. That can take up to 20 minutes of almost constant stirring.
In this quick & easy version, I use boneless skinless chicken cut into chunks no more than 1″ or so. I still like to use dark meat (thighs) because it’s more tender & juicy to me. You can also use breasts if you prefer; boneless skinless chicken breast will cook up even faster so keep that in mind as well.
I still season it but I don’t have to brown it.
As for the roux, it’s still the same method just not in a separate pot. So enough talk about it, get the recipe below.
Quick & Easy Weeknight Gumbo
1/2 onion, diced (use the whole onion if it’s small)
1/2 large bell pepper, diced (use the whole pepper if it’s small)
1 stalk of celery
a few slices of jalapeño or serrano pepper for heat (optional)
4-5 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), cut into small 1″ chunks
1 12oz package of beef sausage, sliced thin (I don’t prefer pork, but any kind will do)
1 lb shrimp (easy peel to keep it quick, already peeled & deveined is quickest)
1 12oz package of frozen cut okra
4 Tbsp butter or oil (or you could mix the 2)
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) of flour
water – I just keep my teakettle full of hot water ready to go as needed
salt & pepper to taste
Cooked rice (we use brown rice or quinoa)
** Notice that cayenne pepper or Tony’s is not on the ingredients list. That’s because you’ll get plenty of heat/spice from the hot peppers. You can certainly use either, but Tony’s is full of salt & you can make your own version of it.
** Another note… I sometimes like to add diced tomatoes – canned or fresh. I’ll take any opportunity to sneak in extra veg.
1. In a large pot, melt 4 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Whisk or stir in the flour trying to keep it in 1 layer. Keep stirring as the flour turns a medium – dark brown.
- If it browns too fast turn down the heat. You want the flour to actually cook so that it doesn’t taste grainy & “raw”. It should take about 5 minutes.
- I like to season my roux with just a little salt, pepper, paprika, & garlic powder. Then give it a taste. You are looking for a thick consistency that is NOT chalky with just a little smoky flavor.
2. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, & hot peppers to the roux and cook for another minute or two.
- You can a add little water at this point only if needed to help get the veggies going.
3. Pour in about 4 cups of water & bring to a simmer. It goes faster if you use hot water (back to my water in a teakettle idea 😉 )
4. Add the chicken & simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Check for doneness – a fork or spoon should easily cut through it. If it’s not all the way there, don’t worry. It will continue to cook as you add the remaining ingredients.
5. Add the sausage & okra. Simmer 8-10 minutes until the okra is cooked through.
6. Remove from heat. Give it a taste then add salt, pepper, paprika, & garlic powder.
- I always start with about a tablespoon of each & adjust as needed. Go easy on the salt though.
7. Add the shrimp last. It will cook in the hot liquid without getting chewy & overcooked.
8. Let it stand a few minutes, then stir in a couple of teaspoons of the gumbo file just before serving.
This recipe makes a large pot of gumbo. It’s at least about 8-10 servings with rice.
I’m sorry but I have never been able to make a “small” pot of gumbo. If I cut this recipe in half, my family wants more so better to have too much than not enough.
Plus soups & stews are always even better the 2nd day. And you can always freeze it or share with friends & family.
If you like this recipe, pin it for later. Let me know if you try it & how it goes. And of course any questions or comment you might have.