Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp Gumbo AKA “Christmas Eve Gumbo”
I’m not even sure where to begin on this gumbo. I guess I’ll start with why I would be posting Christmas Eve Gumbo on January 7th. And it starts with our Friends David & Kelly. Kelly works at the church with Paul, we all live in the same loft building, and over the last two years, they truly have become wonderful friends.
A few years ago, David and Kelly started an annual Christmas Eve gumbo tradition by inviting a large group so-called “misfits” over for Christmas Eve dinner after Christmas Eve services for Kelly’s family’s gumbo recipe. These “misfits” might not have family in town, they might be church employees, but I think some of them just stay in town now for the gumbo! (Which is smart of them!) This past Christmas Eve was the third year in a row for this tradition and each year it gets a little bit bigger than the last.
David makes two very large pots of this gumbo each year and people literally go crazy for it. And, saying from first-hand experience, it’s craze-worthy. Kelly’s mom has been making this recipe for as long as she can remember and what surprised me the most is that, aside from salt, pepper, parsley and bay leaves, all of the flavors of this gumbo are delivered naturally from the veggies and meat.
And it is that – so flavorful! This year, I had the privilege of helping David the day before Christmas Eve prepare the gumbo. I did lots-o-chopping and got to document the process from start to finish.
Yes, the roux is work. Yes, it’s a little time consuming. But when you taste the gumbo, all of the work becomes 100% worth it.
Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp Gumbo
Yield: 2 very large post of gumbo (serves about 50 people)
A Christmas Eve favorite among friends: classic gumbo full of veggies, chicken, sausage and shrimp...and tons of natural flavor.
2 cups vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 pounds large onions, diced
1 package (about 8 stalks) celery, diced
6 large green peppers, diced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped, divided
Salt & pepper to taste (about 4 Tbs. per pot)
4-5 bay leaves per pot
3 pounds Polksa Kielbasa-style sausage, cut into half moons
8 pounds chicken (mixture of thighs and breasts), bone-in
4 pounds shrimp, deveined and tails removed
12 (or more) eggs per pot
2-3 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes per pot
White rice, cooked with diced onion added in (optional)
A few tips before you start:
-wear an apron.
-if you are by yourself, have all of the chopping and prep work complete before you start the roux, it will take all of your attention once you get started.
-be patient with the roux process; it will take about an hour-and-a-half to reach the right color.
to prep the soup pots:
Fill two (20-quart) stock pots with salted water and bring them to a boil.
for the roux:
While the water comes to a boil, make the roux. Melt the shortening over medium heat in a cast-iron skillet until it's melted - don't rush this step. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Once melted, add the flour until a sort-of paste forms. (Note: always add equal parts of flour to the shortening.)
Stir the roux continuously with a wooden spoon and continue to stir as the roux changes color. It will start very light in color and will progress as it cooks (see image above for color progression). Cook the roux for about 90 minutes and watch the color change as you go. You will know it's finished when you reach a "dark chocolate" color. Be very patient - the roux burns very easily.
to finish the gumbo:
Once Roux is a dark chocolate color, turn off the heat, stand back, and carefully add a little of the boiling water to the roux to "loosen it up". Be very careful during this part - it will be a little messy too! The roux is very active at this time. Stir carefully to get as much of the water and roux to mix – then carefully pour half of the roux into one pot and half into the other pot. The water should now look like dirty dish water. (Gross, I know. Maybe hot chocolate is a better description?)
Add the green peppers, onions, celery, parsley, bay leaves, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the pot and stir. Add the chicken to both pots equally. Boil the gumbo to cook the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken and let it cool. While chicken is cooling add the sausage equally to both pots.
Once chicken is cooled, remove all of the meat and add it back to the pots. Designate one pot as the "shrimp" pot and one as just chicken & sausage. Add a little more chicken to the chicken and sausage pot.
At this point, let the gumbo cool. The above steps are always done on the day before the gumbo is planned to be served and both pots are left outside to chill overnight. The longer the better.
Once ready to serve, bring both pots back to a simmer, add the shrimp to the seafood pot just before serving and cook just until they are done, 5-10, then bring the heat down to the lowest setting.
Gently “drop” in the eggs – about a dozen per pot (or more). Then add red crushed peppers to taste to both pots for a little added heat. Remove the bay leaves before serving; serve with hot white rice.
This recipe can easily be halved or quartered if you are feeding fewer people. If you need help dividing the recipe, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form above. I am happy to help any way that I can.
I would suggest having someone help to make this - it's not difficult, there are just lots of steps and the roux is time consuming.
You can make both post with seafood if you wish, just divide all ingredients equally. In addition, you can add oysters, lump crab meat, etc. to make it more "seafood-y".