A few weeks ago, I got caught up in the spirit of Mardi Gras, and decided to tackle the long list of ingredients for the “Gumbo Ya Ya,” from the January 2010 issue of Fine Cooking. Indeed, this recipe can’t be rushed, but do you know what 2 hours of a simmering gumbo gives you? It gives you 2 hours of great smells, as the thick and smoky stew’s flavors intensify on your stove top.

I halved the ingredients for this recipe, because I did not need to make 8 servings. Of course, you need to be careful and attentive when you stir your roux. A roux is supposed to be intimidating -- you can’t undo your mistakes. Once it’s burned, it’s ruined. My roux was “chocolate-colored” in 9 minutes.

Instead of using cayenne, I used smoked paprika, in the interest of my young child’s palate. I also used vegetable-bouillon broth and smoked chicken-apple sausage. And I was so pleased to have the opportunity to use file powder! The scent of sassafras will remind you of root beer. It’ll make you smile, I’m sure.

After simmering for 2 hours, the chicken thighs will definitely fall apart, away from their bones. The thigh meat actually tastes pleasantly “gamey” by the end. Do garnish with scallions and Tabasco, and serve atop white rice. Everyone loves a gumbo.

Bone-In Chicken Thighs (1 1/4 lbs.) = $2.71
Onions (2) = .80¢
Bell Peppers (2) = $1.56
Smoked Sausage (12 oz.) = $7.98

RECIPE: don’t rush a gumbo; love it and it’ll love you right back
devote at least 3 hours to this marvelous exercise
TASTE: smokiness turns heads: chicken and sausage are peaked with stewed celery, onions, peppers

Next time, I’m taking a vegetarian trip. I’ll make Ellen Kanner’s “Turkish Millet with Garden-Fresh Greens,” along with Tori Ritchie’s “Apple Pizza.” Come back to my site on Monday, May 2, to see my meal.