Cook the Chicken - In a medium-sized pot, add chicken and cover with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until fully cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes. The internal temperature should reach 160ºF (71ºC). Strain the chicken broth and reserve.
Shred the Meat - Remove cooked chicken from the pot. Allow it to cool, then shred into small pieces. Cover and set aside.
Cook the Okra - In a medium-sized pot, add okra and ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer, occasionally stirring, until tender, about 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a colander, drain and set aside.
Make the Roux - In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, combine butter and flour. Cook over medium heat, frequently stirring with a whisk, until a dark brown roux forms, about 15 minutes. If needed, increase the heat if you do not see a substantial color change. In the last 5 minutes, continuously stir, so the roux does not burn.
Saute the Vegetables - Add onion, bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the pot. Sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Cook the Sausage - Add cooked okra, tomatoes, and sliced sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the Seasonings - Add bay leaf, thyme, basil, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
Simmer - Stir in 4 cups of the reserved chicken broth. Loosely cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat, occasionally stirring until the gumbo thickens, about 30 minutes.
Simmer the Chicken - Add the cooked shredded chicken and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
Add the Gumbo Filé - Turn off the heat and slowly stir in the gumbo filé. Do not reboil after adding, as this tends to make the gumbo stringy—taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired. Add more chicken broth if you want a less thick consistency.
To Serve - Scoop and serve over steamed rice.
Recipe Yield: About 6 cups
Serving Size: About 1 cup
For a Mild Spice: Reduce cayenne pepper to ¼ teaspoon, increase to taste. Chili powder can also be used but won’t be as smoky in flavor.
Use Rotisserie Chicken: Add 6 cups of pre-cooked shredded chicken.
Store-bought Broth or Stock: You will need 4 cups, plus more if you want to adjust the thickness.
Make it Gluten-Free: Use cassava flour instead of all-purpose flour. Adjust cook time based on the color change of the roux.
Adding Seafood: Shrimp or crab can be added in the last 5 to 10 minutes of simmering. Cook until no longer raw.
Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Freeze individual portions for up to 3 months.
Reheating: Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring until hot. Add more chicken broth or water if needed.
Recipe Source: “Favorite Recipes from Famous New Orleans Restaurants,” by Express Publishing Co. (1981).