Looking for a weekend kitchen project? This simple chicken & smoked sausage gumbo makes big batch comfort food for a crowd or the week ahead.
WHISK: Add the oil to a 6.5 quart dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until combined and then cook, whisking very often, until the roux thickens and deepens in color, going from a pale blonde, then to a golden hue and finally to a rich milk chocolate color throughout, about 45 minutes.
SOFTEN: Reduce the heat a little to medium low, then stir in the diced onion, celery and bell peppers. Stir the vegetables through the now glossy and thick roux. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to release water into the roux and soften, loosening the mixture, about 20 minutes.
BROWN: While the vegetables are softening, heat another large skillet. Slice the smoked sausage a little under 1/2 inch / 1.25 cm thick, then add it to the skillet and cook until caramelized and browned in spots, flipping over to brown the other side, too. Transfer the browned sausage to a paper towel lined plate and reserve for later.
SIMMER: Stir in the minced garlic, dried thyme, black pepper and smoked paprika, cooking for a minute or two. Add the bay leaves and stir the broth into the roux a little at time so that you have a smooth texture throughout. Add the reserved rendered smoked sausage to the dutch oven as well as half of the sliced okra and increase the heat enough to bring the gumbo base to a simmer. Cover with a lid and adjust the heat so that the gentle simmer stays steady, stirring here and there while the gumbo cooks for about one hour.
FINISH: Taste and adjust the seasoning with extra salt if needed. Add the chopped chicken and remaining okra and bring back to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is warmed through and the added okra is still a little tender, about 20 minutes or so. Taste once again and adjust the salt or heat with additional hot sauce, Cajun seasoning or cayenne pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaves before serving alongside white rice and plenty of chopped green onions.