Chicken & Sausage GumboOh, Cook’s Illustrated. We know how this works. There are no “quickie” recipes in this magazine. There are no aloof approaches to food. We turn to Cook’s Illustrated for the hyper-tested methods, for the science, for the victories. And that’s fine.

The recipe for “Chicken and Sausage Gumbo,” in the January/February 2017 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below), has us toast flour in the oven for 55 minutes. Really.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2017
Serves 6
Serve over white rice.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. paprika
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth, room temperature
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
8 oz. andouille sausage, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
6 scallions, sliced thin
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
Hot sauce

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place flour in 12-inch skillet and bake, stirring occasionally, until color of ground cinnamon, 40 to 55 minutes. (As flour approaches desired color, it will take on a very nutty aroma that will smell faintly of burnt popcorn, and it will need to be stirred more frequently.) Transfer flour to medium bowl and let cool. (Toasted flour can be stored in an airtight container in cool, dark place for up to 6 months.)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in thyme, garlic, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups broth. Add chicken in single layer (chicken will not be completely submerged in liquid) and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.

Slowly whisk remaining 2 cups broth in small increments into toasted flour until thick, smooth, batter-like paste forms. Increase heat to medium and slowly whisk paste into gumbo, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding next. Stir in andouille. Simmer, uncovered, until gumbo thickens slightly, 20 to 25 minutes.

Once cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir chicken and scallions into gumbo. Remove pot from heat, stir in vinegar, and season with salt to taste. Discard bay laves. Serve, passing hot sauce separately. (Gumbo can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

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Gumbo, as a concept, comes with its own set of historical intimidations. You need to produce a roux and it needs to be correct. Traditionally, flour is cooked with a fat on the stove top, to darken it to a certain hue. The Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen dared to dry roast flour in a skillet in the oven, stirring, until it was the color of ground cinnamon. Follow the rules and you’ll get there.

The rest of the prep is actually simple. While the flour is toasting, you can handle the mis-en-place: onion, bell pepper, celery, thyme, garlic. Cook’s Illustrated notably leaves out the traditional okra and the file powder as thickeners. Instead, there’s all this toasted flour and a bit of broth. Thick paste, folks.

While the gumbo thickens, you can shred the chicken that you’ve already cooked. I added 2 1/2 tsp. salt to the gumbo pot at the end.

The gumbo victory tastes rich and warm (cayenne) and toasty. It’s not too difficult -- it’s precise. There’s a difference.

Onion = .40¢
Green Bell Pepper = .40¢
Boneless Chicken Thighs (2 lbs.) = $8.52
Andouille Sausage (8 oz.) = $2.76
Scallions (6) = .78¢

PREP TIME: while flour toasts for 55 minutes, prep vegetables and cook with chicken; thicken gumbo for 25 minutes more
TASTE: rich, warm, toasty, thick gumbo, darkened by the toasted flour; chicken thighs do their magic

Next time, let’s get sweet. I’m dazzled by all of the coffee cake recipes in the January/February 2017 issue of Bake From Scratch. I want to make the “Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake,” with its streusel and its glaze. Come back to my site next week, to see the coffee cake brilliance.