In Coastal Mississippi, the winter months offer just as much sunshine as any other time of year, but that’s no reason not to indulge in one of our all-time favorite winter warmers: gumbo.
This signature stew is inspired by French and African American cuisines, with rich and hearty flavors that warm both the heart and soul.
The main components of gumbo include stock, roux, and the Creole “holy trinity” – onions, bell peppers, and celery. However, after that, the ingredients vary depending on who is making it. There is no right or wrong way to make it, but there are unlimited possibilities to an amazing pot of gumbo.
We reached out to our local chefs to share their own unique take on this popular dish. Try each of their recipes below, and find out which one is your favorite.
2 large onions, diced
2-3 green bell peppers, diced
2 cups celery, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped
1-1½ cups okra, sliced (Note: Frozen is OK
1 whole chicken, or 4 chicken thighs (skin on)
2 cups sliced Conecuh smoked sausage, chopped
1-2 lbs. large wild-caught shrimp, shell removed
Chicken stock – enough to cover by at least one inch
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
Red pepper flakes to taste
Roux: 3-4 tbsp oil, 3-4 tbsp flour
- Season the chicken with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, and roast until golden brown. Set aside, and allow to cool.
- Add oil to a heavy cast iron pot or stainless steel-lined copper stock pot. Sauté sausage until browned. Remove sausage from pan, and set aside. Reserve pot for the next step (do not clean).
- Season the shrimp with Tony’s. In the same pot, cook small batches of the shrimp on high heat. Slightly sear for about 1 minute per side, tossing frequently. Remove shrimp from pot, and set aside.
- Set heat to medium. Add all the vegetables, and season with Tony’s and red pepper flakes. Cook until caramelized, about 20-40 minutes. It should be reduced in volume by about 40%.
- While veggies cook, debone the chicken and set aside.
- In another pot, combine chicken skin, bones, and any vegetable trimmings with the chicken stock. Simmer for an hour.
- Strain the stock, and add to the pot of veggies.
- In another heavy-bottomed pan, combine equal parts oil and flour to create a roux. Stir over medium heat with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir out all lumps. When the roux turns dark brown, add it to the pot of veggies and stock.
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the sausage and chicken, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
- When the gumbo is almost done, add the shrimp and turn off the heat.
- Serve with steamed Mississippi rice (such as David Arant’s Delta Blues Rice), or, as Julian Brunt likes it, topped with ¼ cup of potato salad.
Chef/Owner of White Pillars Restaurant and Lounge (Biloxi)
Yield: 1 Gallon
3 large yellow onions, diced small
3 red bell peppers, diced small
1½ heads celery, diced small
¼ head garlic, minced
¼ cup thyme, chopped
1 cup peanut oil
1¼ cups All Purpose flour
Salt & pepper (to taste)
½ bottle dark beer
7 cups chicken stock (made from bones of smoked chicken)
2 cups braised collard greens
2 whole chickens, smoked with salt, pepper & thyme
½ lb. smoked sausage (preferably andouille sausage)
Garnish: Rice, green onions (sliced on a bias)
- Season chicken with salt, pepper, and thyme (to taste). Smoke chicken.
- Debone chicken and set meat aside. Reserve bones for the next step.
- In a large stock pot, combine the bones of the smoked chicken with 7 cups of water. Bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 4-6 hours to create a stock.
- While stock is simmering, dice/cut veggies.
- Once stock is finished, take a few cups to submerge the collard greens in another pot with some onions, and bacon, seasoned to your liking. Braise until tender.
- In another pot, combine the peanut oil and flour to create a roux. Cook on stove until the roux turns deep brown. Deglaze with beer.
- To the roux, add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper.
- Add chicken, braised collard greens, and sausage. Simmer for at least an hour.
- Serve topped with rice and green onions.
Chef/Owner of Food, Booze, & Hiccups (Ocean Springs)
Yield: 8-10 servings
Time: 2 days
Duck Fat Roux: 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup duck fat
8 duck thighs; confit, cooled, and pulled
1 large yellow onion, medium diced
1 bell pepper seeded, medium diced
2 celery stalks; leaves removed, medium diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. okra; roasted and pureed
4 quarts shrimp stock
8 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp hot sauce
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lb. andouille sausage, cut crosswise ¼-inch thick
1 lb. Gulf shrimp (about 21-25 shrimp), peeled and deveined
Kosher salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
For Serving: Cooked white rice & fresh herbs
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Make duck fat roux by mixing whole wheat flour and duck fat in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Constantly whisk until “peanut butter” in color. Set aside.
- Season duck thighs and cook in duck fat at 300F for 1 ½ hours, covered. Once finished, cool the duck thighs (uncovered, but still in duck fat) in the refrigerator.
- Once cooled, remove the duck thighs from the fat. Remove, and discard the skin. Pull the meat from the bone. Reserve meat, and discard bones.
- Strain the duck fat, and reserve for next step.
- In a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat, add enough duck fat to cover the bottom. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Sauté.
- While the vegetables are sautéing, place the okra on a pan in the oven to roast until charred. Let cool slightly, then blend to a paste in blender.
- Add the okra paste to the stock pot. Mix for 2 minutes to combine. Add stock.
- Add hot sauce, smoked paprika, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Turn heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, whisk in the roux and turn heat down to medium-low. Simmer for 1 hour.
- While the stock pot is simmering, cook the andouille sausage in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Add sausage to the stock pot.
- Remove stock pot from heat after 1 hour, and cool uncovered in refrigerator overnight.
- Once ready to eat on the next day, reheat gumbo over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add shrimp, and cook through.
- Serve over rice, and garnish with fresh herbs.
Chef de Cuisine at Thorny Oyster (Bay St. Louis)
1 cup All Purpose flour
¾ cup butter
4 quarts homemade crab stock (with roasted shrimp shells)
1 lb. green onion sausage, diced
2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp instant coffee
2 tbsp Cajun blackening seasoning
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Crystal hot sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp gumbo file
3 cups okra, sliced
2 cups oysters, shucked
5 lbs. shrimp
1 lb. lump crabmeat
For Serving: Two Brooks Farms “Blue Jasmoon Rice,” green onions, and fried soft-shell crab
- Peel shrimp, and save shells to roast for the crab stock.
- In a cast iron skillet, brown the green onion sausage and strain fat. Set aside.
- Make roux in a large pot, by melting butter over medium heat. Add flour, stirring constantly until it turns a dark caramel color, approximately 30-40 minutes.
- Once the roux is toasted to a dark brown, turn the heat to low. Add onions, bell peppers, and celery, stirring quickly so the roux does not burn.
- Add stock, and bring to a slow simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent roux from burning, and veggies from sticking.
- Add seasonings, hot sauce, instant coffee, Worcestershire sauce, gumbo file, and bay leaves. Allow to simmer slowly over 2 hours so that the flavors infuse.
- Add shrimp, sausage, okra, and oysters. Cook through.
- Just before serving, turn off heat and add lump crabmeat. Stir to incorporate, heating crabmeat through.
- Serve with Two Brooks Farms “Blue Jasmoon Rice” and green onions. To make it extra special, garnish with half of a fried soft-shell crab.