This recipe for okra gumbo is made with a rich, dark roux, loaded with chicken and tasso ham, and lots of thickening okra, very comforting and easy to make.
Comforting Okra Gumbo
We're cooking up a big pot of Okra Gumbo in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. This is one my favorite dishes in the world.
I fell in love with gumbo on my many trips to New Orleans, which is a wonderful culinary city. So many outstanding places to eat and enjoy.
You'll find gumbo everywhere, from Cajun style to Creole style, even green gumbo. Gumbo has really evolved a lot, though one ingredient you'll still find quite often is okra.
Not everyone uses or even likes okra in their gumbo, but okra was once considered essential for making gumbo, and for some cooks, it still is.
Why Okra in Gumbo?
Okra is an ingredient commonly used in gumbo as a thickener due to it's mucilaginous quality, or "sliminess". This thick mucilage spreads out into the gumbo, which thickens it without imparting any sort of slimy quality.
There are other ways to thicken gumbo, such as filé powder, which is dried and ground sassafras leaves. You'll also achieve thickness and body from your roux. When using okra, however, the dish is characterized as "Okra Gumbo".
I've seen recipes that do not use a roux to make okra gumbo, and rely strictly on the okra for thickening. It works well, though I prefer sticking with a roux, which adds flavor and body to the dish.
The inclusion of okra in gumbo is somewhat debatable, based on the preference of the cook, but it should be noted that the name "Gumbo" derives from a West African word for okra.
The West African version of this dish, which had a heavy influence in what gumbo is today, used okra as a thickener and did not include a roux.
Many people from Louisiana will tell you it isn't a gumbo without the roux, at least not the gumbo they grew up with.
For me, personally, I'll take the roux as well as the okra.
Let's talk about how to make okra gumbo, shall we?
Okra Gumbo Ingredients
- Olive Oil. For cooking.
- Chicken. I use chicken thighs, but you can use chicken breast for leaner.
- Tasso Ham. Or use andouille sausage.
- Peanut Oil. For making the roux. Vegetable oil is good, too.
- All Purpose Flour.
- Vegetables. Bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic, and fresh okra. You can use jalapeno or hotter peppers, if desired.
- Cajun Seasonings. Try my homemade Cajun seasoning recipe, or use your favorite brand, or Creole seasonings.
- Chicken Stock. You can also use vegetable stock or chicken broth.
- Additionals. Bay leaves, parsley, filé powder, salt and black pepper.
- For Serving. Cooked white rice, if desired, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped parsley, hot sauce.
How to Make Okra Gumbo - the Recipe Method
Brown the Chicken and Ham (or Andouille). Heat a pan to medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and heat.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan along with the tasso ham (or sliced andouille). Cook a couple minutes per side until browned. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the Roux. Add ½ cup peanut oil to a large pot and heat to medium heat. Add flour and stir. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring constantly, until the roux browns to the color of chocolate.
I prefer a roux the color of dark chocolate, though you can go lighter if you prefer. It is more common and traditional in Louisiana to make a very dark roux. See my post on How to Make a Roux (includes a video demonstration).
Cook the Vegetables. Add onions, peppers, celery and garlic. Stir and cook about 5 minutes, covered.
Chicken and Ham. Add chicken and tasso ham (or andouille). Stir and cook for 1 minute.
Spices and Stock. Add Cajun seasoning and chicken stock. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil.
Simmer the Gumbo. Add bay leaves and reduce heat. Cook at medium-low heat for 1 hour to thicken. You can simmer longer if you’d like.
Thicken with Okra. Add okra and parsley and cook 15 minutes. The okra will help to thicken up the gumbo.
Serve it Up! Remove from heat and stir in filé powder, if using, for extra thickness. Serve into a bowl, over white rice if desired, and garnish with extra parsley and red pepper flakes.
Boom! Done! Your okra gumbo is ready to serve. It looks so tasty, doesn't it? Look at all that wonderful okra. I can't wait to dig in!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Tuck shrimp into the pot the last 10 minutes to cook for a delicious shrimp and okra gumbo.
- Use frozen okra if you're unable to obtain fresh.
Serving Okra Gumbo
You can serve okra gumbo in a bowl on it's own, though it is popularly served with white rice.
Also, potato salad is a popular dish served alongside your favorite gumbo. Some people enjoy adding a spoonful or two of creamy potato salad into their gumbo, though it is more commonly served on the side.
This recipe will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
You can also freeze it for 2-3 months in a freezer proof container. I freeze my gumbo often and enjoy it for lunches. Works perfectly for me.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this aloo gobi recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and if you decided to spice it up!
If you enjoy Cajun cuisine, I recommend the following cookbook, which I used to adapt this recipe. It has a lot of great recipes.
- Louisiana Real and Rustic, by Emeril Lagasse (affiliate link, my friends!)
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Okra Gumbo Recipe
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 pound chicken thighs chopped - chicken breast is good too
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 12 ounces tasso ham chopped (or use andouille sausage, sliced into ¼ inch slices)
- ½ cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
- ½ cup flour
- 1 medium bell pepper chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 medium celery stalk chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning or more to taste
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 3 bay leaves
- ¾ pound fresh okra sliced
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley + more for serving
- 1 tablespoon filé powder or to taste if desired
- For Serving: Cooked white rice, if desired
- Heat a pan to medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and heat.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan along with the tasso ham (or sliced andouille). Cook a couple minutes per side until browned. Set aside until ready to use.
- Add ½ cup peanut oil to a large pot and heat to medium heat. Add flour and stir. Cook for 20-30 minutes, constantly stirring, until the roux browns to the color of chocolate. I prefer a dark chocolate roux.
- Add peppers, onion, celery and garlic. Stir and cook about 5 minutes, covered.
- Add chicken and tasso ham (or andouille). Stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add Cajun seasoning and chicken stock. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom.
- Add bay leaves and cook at medium-low heat for 1 hour to thicken. You can simmer longer if you’d like.
- Stir in okra and parsley and cook 15 minutes. The okra will help to thicken up the gumbo.
- Remove from heat and stir in filé powder, if using, for extra thickness.
- Serve into a bowl, over white rice if desired, and garnish with extra parsley and red pepper flakes.