The mash-up of Caribbean island, African, and French Canadian refugee culture in New Orleans resulted in the birth of the modern counterculture in the city’s melting pot Conga Square, not to mention centuries of amazing food and great music. Reefer flourished amongst the jazzmen and bohemians of New Orleans long before the rest of the country, and those pot-loving jazz cats surely had a healthy appetite for the city’s legendary cuisine! This gumbo recipe from our friend Deep Fry Dave melts all these influences together into a truly unique and unforgettable dish.
Gumbo is actually a Caribbean term for okra, a primary ingredient in most versions of the dish. Making a true Cajun-style gumbo absolutely requires celery, onion, bell pepper, and garlic.
A note on the ingredients: If you can find fresh okra, do so, but okra gets a little slippery when you cut it, so be careful. As for the sausage, Deep Fry Dave prefers to mix pork and chicken andouille, which can be found at any decent supermarket. Real andouille will have some spice in it, so be aware that it will add heat to the gumbo. You can also substitute polish kielbasa or Italian sausage for a tamer version. Dave likes to keep the bones on the chicken when cooking it, because it adds extra richness, but you can also get a deboned chicken and make your life easier.
A note on equipment: A 10- or 12”-inch cast-iron skillet with high sides is best for this recipe. You can also use a heavy frying pan with a copper bottom, which basically spreads the heat evenly so nothing will burn.
All said and done, the total cook time is about three hours. Allow thirty minutes to prep, then about one hour of cooking on the stovetop, and finally about one and a half hours of simmering the gumbo. Make it a party! Invite friends to help and ask them to bring Louisiana’s famous Abita beer.
2 large yellow onions, chopped (reserve the tops)
3 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
8 celery ribs, sliced (reserve the tops)
1 4- or 5-pound chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 to 6 grams cannabis flowers (or 1/4 ounce of cannabis leaf), ground or finely shredded
One 16-ounce bag of frozen okra
A couple dashes of quality hot sauce
Sea salt to taste (the sausage and butter may be a little salty, so hold back and add salt at the end or not at all)
4 to 6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
In a large bowl, combine chopped onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic. Keep the okra separate. If you’re using frozen okra, let it thaw for a while by submerging the bag in warm water until it is at room temperature. Reserve the onion tops and celery trimmings for stock.
Next, put a big stock pot on high heat and add the chicken stock. Add the onion tops and celery trimmings. Bring the stock up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
Meanwhile, cut the andouille sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Heat up a large sauté pan on high, then add the sausage and lower the heat to medium. Some store-bought andouille is pre-cooked (read the package) so just heat it through and brown it. Uncooked sausage from the butcher must be cooked for about 10 minutes, until the outside is brown and slightly crunchy. Remove the sausage pieces from the skillet, leaving the sausage grease. Set the sausage aside in a bowl.
Wash off the chicken and pat dry. Reheat your pan, and add the chicken pieces skin-side down. Cook 5 minutes per side, until brown. Set aside.
Remove the pan from heat so it cools down for 7 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat back on the pan to low, and add 1 tablespoon of the butter and melt it. Next, add the ground cannabis flowers or leaves. The psychoactive THC is fat-soluble, so cook it slowly, over low heat, for about 20 minutes. Once that time has passed, remove and discard the cannabis “greens” but leave the infused butter in the pan. Use a slotted spoon or metal colander to squeeze all the liquid out of the fibrous cannabis greens.
Now turn up the heat to medium-high and add half of the chopped veggies. Sauté until the onions are clear and everything else is a bit soft. Remove the sautéed veggies and set aside. Reserve the pan, you’ll use it again soon.
From the simmering chicken stock, remove and discard the onion tops and celery trimmings. Add the sautéed veggies and half the thawed okra (or fresh, if using) to the stock. Put the remaining okra in the bowl with the leftover uncooked veggies.
Now, you will make the roux by adding to the really flavorful grease and butter in the previously used saute pan. This browned flour, oil, and butter mixture is the basis for a gumbo with deep, rich Cajun flavor.
Turn the heat to medium and add 1/2 cup of oil. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir in the flour, mixing until the flour dissolves into the oil. Stir the roux, constantly scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. After 10 minutes of stirring, slowly add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Continue to stir for another 10 to 20 minutes, until the roux has turned the color of dark chocolate milk. Now, add the other half of the uncooked veggies. Mix the veggies into the roux until they are completely covered in it. After about 5 minutes, pour the contents of the skillet into the simmering chicken stock mixture. Next, add the cooked chicken pieces, and bring the gumbo up to a boil. Use a glass measuring cup to scoop out 2 cups of liquid and add it to the hot iron skillet. You want to get all of the flavor and psychoactive sauce from that pan, so use your wooden spoon and scrape all the bits off the sides and bottom. Pour it back into the big pot. Add a couple healthy shots of hot sauce.
Once the mixture has come up to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add your thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and bay leaves. Now, add about 3 cups of water to thin out the gumbo.
It needs to simmer for about an hour and a half. Stir it up every now and then. After 50 minutes, add the andouille sausage and the oil from the bottom of the bowl. Begin to make your long grain rice, following the package directions.
Before you serve, remove the chicken bones and bay leaves from the gumbo. It may take a minute of spooning around, but I am convinced that leaving them in for the cooking process makes the soup richer. Taste and season with sea salt if desired.
To serve, scoop some rice into the bottom of a bowl, and ladle the gumbo on top. Garnish with the chopped basil and parsley, and serve with crusty bread. You can freeze what you don’t immediately eat.
Dave Miss (aka Deep Fry Dave) has been cooking since he made his first omelet while watching Julia Child on public television in the ’70s. Dave spent twenty years in New Orleans cooking in beaucoup restaurants while working his way through college and the carnival seasons. Decades of hosting parties taught him the value of a good roux and a well-cooked deep-fried turkey. Currently Dave has been in the baked goods business making vegan granola and chocolate chip cookies with chunky sea salt under the name Davis’ Famous’. Dave lives in Prospect Gardens, Brooklyn and can be yelled at on the street as “Cookie Man!”