This Delicious Chicken Okra Gumbo – Gluten Free recipe is so delicious you’ll think yourself to New Orleans. It’s easy, tasty, and will even please a Cajun!
Did I ever tell you? I love Creole and Cajun food! I find most of it absolutely delicious, but there tends to be a couple problems for me… First, hardly any of the foods you find in restaurants are gluten free because of the roux or the (delicious) French Bread. Second, while I love shellfish, I recently developed a shellfish allergy. It no longer loves me back! So, that amazingly delicious shrimp po boy is unfortunately out the cards… Luckily, it’s only crustaceans, so once I am able to crack an awesome French Bread recipe, I promise you’ll be seeing a GF NOLA Scallop Po boy post! Yum, I’m drooling just thinking of it.
In the meantime…
We have a Delicious Chicken Okra Gumbo – Gluten Free recipe that is to die for! Obviously a bit late for Mardi Gras, but it’s a keeper. Funny story, I tested this recipe last night at our neighborhood Mardi Gras party. For those not in the know, our neighborhood was originally an active senior community, so 70% of our neighbors are a couple generations older than my wife and I. Oh man, the gumbo was a hit! Also, it was fun to watch my wife have to tell all the ladies she’s not the one who cooks in our house.
Don’t Be So Roux
As mentioned above, many of the amazing Creole recipes found require a roux. If you don’t know what a roux is, it’s essentially a rich thickener added to stews/soups/sauces made from an equal part fat (Canola, Butter, Lard, essentially any cooking oil, etc…) and flour (generally wheat flour). The flour and fat are stirred together in a saucepan on medium/low heat until the roux forms a caramelized base for your recipe.
The amount of caramelization will vary depending on the dish. For something like a Bechamel Sauce you’ll often use a white roux. For a heartier dish such as gumbo, you’ll use a dark roux. And for something like an Étouffée it can be interchangeable. Serious Eats has a an intro to roux’s article that’s quite informative.
Our recipe uses butter and King Arthur’s Measure for Measure flour blend. I originally tried to use rice flour, but the oil and flour weren’t melding well together. You’ll want something that has a bit more binding to it. If you add in 1/2 tsp of Xanthan Gum or 2 Tbsp of Arrowroot it will work perfectly. Also, I hear that Cassava Flour, similar to Tapioca Starch, will work. Cassava Flour is literally dried yucca ground to a powder, where as Tapioca Starch is the dried liquid extracts of the crushed yucca.
To Okra or Not to Okra
That is the question… So, traditionally, Gumbo has okra. The original West African dish of seafood “gombo” was described as a seafood stew being thickened with okra. Not so coincidentally, both the French and Italian word for okra is…. gombo! With that said, everyone has their own preferences and I prefer the traditional route with okra. I like the fact that it adds a nice thickness to the broth and a bit more sustenance to the dish. Without it, the rice would immediately sink to the bottom of the bowl! An added benefit, according to Healthline.com is that okra is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants!
On another note, while researching the history and traditions of gumbo, I came across the 10 Commandments of Gumbo and it’s pretty funny. So as long as you’re not using tomatoes and make your roux, the okra is optional – but recommended.
The Meat of the Delicious Chicken Okra Gumbo – Gluten Free
My Delicious Chicken Okra Gumbo – Gluten Free only has poultry in it, but that’s not typical. Knowing that people are trying to be health conscious, I avoided pork sausage. Just kidding, a little pork sausage isn’t going to change your health, I just wanted make it “friendly” for a few of my friends that avoid pork and beef.
Beyond appeasing my friends, I wanted to see if there was much of a taste difference. It turns out that using chicken and turkey sausage is just as good. The trick is in buying the right sausage… Don’t go throwing in Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage, instead, get their Cajun Style Andouille Chicken Sausage. And add Hillshire Farms Turkey Kielbasa, the spiciness of one and smokiness of the other makes for a great combo. If you’re using a pork-based sausage, just make sure you’re getting Andouille style.
So, you can really go about the chicken two separate ways. The quickest and easiest way is to buy yourself a Rotisserie Chicken, shred it, and be done. The most flavorful way is to buy a two-pack of chicken breasts and 5 pack of skin on chicken thighs, roast them at 425F° in olive, salt, and coriander until the skin gets crispy. Then, eat the crispy skin as snack and shred the chicken into large pieces for the gumbo. Adding the thighs gives a bit more flavor to the gumbo, but if you’re looking for the leanest option you can replace the thighs with two additional breasts.
Rice Above The Norm with this Delicious Chicken Okra Gumbo – Gluten Free
You most definitely want to make sure you serve this Delicious Chicken Okra Gumbo (or any gumbo) with rice! According to the 10 Gumbo Commandments, it should be a ratio of 2 gumbo to 1 rice. I tend to think that’s a bit heavy on the rice, I’m more of a 3:1 kind of guy.
In regards to the rice, just plain white rice is a bit boring and doesn’t really add much, in my opinion. And realistically, it doesn’t take much to pep your rice up a notch. Let me tell you…
All you need is a little olive oil, sweet or red onion, and salt in addition to your rice and water. Before you start boiling your rice, add about 1/4 Cup of finely chopped onion, 1 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt, with 1.5 Tbsp of Olive Oil and soften the onion on medium/low heat before adding 1 Cup of rice. Toss the long grain rice in coating all the grains in the oil and onion, then add your 2 Cups of water. Bring it to a rolling boil stirring occasionally to avoid clumping, then reduce your heat to low and cover with just the slightest crack. Come back in about 12-15 minutes and you’re rice is done and delicious.
File Away the Filé
Traditionally there is another ingredient often added to gumbo, this ingredient is called filé. Filé is made from dried Sassafras leaves and is then powdered/ground. Essentially it has two uses in gumbo. The first use is for flavoring, which is similar to an herby, thyme, root beer flavor. The second is as a thickener. If you’re using okra as in this Delicious Chicken Okra Gumbo – Gluten Free recipe, then avoid using filé as it will thicken your gumbo beyond desirability.
If you don’t use okra, then by all means add the filé! You’ll want to add approximately 2-3 Tbsp worth. The trick is adding it at the end, after you’re done boiling. If it’s added sooner, it’ll actually turn stringy and bitter – living up to its French translation as “stringy/thready.” Often it’s sprinkled directly on the serving bowl, so consider this if you plan to reheat your gumbo later on. The food blog F52 has an interesting short post regarding filé, if you have time for a light read.
Tips and Tricks for Delicious Chicken Okra Gumbo – Gluten Free
- I use fresh okra, but feel free to use frozen okra. I generally do not recall seeing fresh okra all too often in my Chicago grocery haunts, but it’s everywhere down south.
- Make it in advance. Once the gumbo cools, transfer it to an airtight container. Reheat on the stove and serve.
- Reheating Rice: Place the refrigerated rice in a microwave proof bowl, add a tablespoon or two of water, cover it with a plate, then power on the microwave for 3 minutes (or until hot) and let the rice rest. The steam will help reconstitute the moisture.
- Use Okra or Filé, but not both… Read the section above for further explanation.
- A cast iron enamel dutch oven is the best way to cook your gumbo. The enamel helps prevent sticking while the cast iron keeps a steady temperature. I’m generally too cheap for a collection of Staub or Le Creuset pots, but Amazonbasics has a high quality and relatively inexpensive Dutch Oven that I use constantly and comes in a variety of colors and sizes!