Eddie was one of my  mom’s  dearest friends, and he made the best chicken gumbo ever. He shared this recipe with me, and I know he would be happy that I am sharing it with you. But first…

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the word “gumbo” is of African origin and it means “okra.” When I was in West Africa, I saw them growing wild in the forest. They’ve always been one of my favorite vegetables, and seeing them  growing wild on the path made me feel a little closer to home.

An okra bush growing wild in Togo.

How about we make a pot of this delicious stew with world-wide influences?


  • 1 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 lb. okra
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 t basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 qts. chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 lb. andouille sausage (or whatever kind of sausage)
  • 1 whole chicken, cut up
  • 1 T gumbo filé (or sage if you don’t have filé)

First, chop the vegetables, but don’t discard the vegetable stumps!They have a future in becoming a broth! (Click here for the recipe.)

Make a dark brown roux. Add all of the vegetables (except the okra).

Over a medium-low heat, sauté the vegetables until soft – about 5 minutes.

Dump half of the okra into the mix.

Sauté the okra along with everything else until it is less stringy – about 5 minutes.

Add the seasonings to the vegetable mixture (except for the filé which will be used later). Add 2 quarts chicken stock or water. I think using an unsalted stock makes the gumbo much more flavorful.

Let the gumbo simmer over a medium-low heat while you brown the chicken and sausage. I just throw in a cut-up whole chicken, but you can add whatever pieces you prefer. In this pot of gumbo I’ve used a boudin sausage, but Eddie always used andouille. Always in MawMaw’s kitchen, the rule of thumb was, “Add this…or whatever you have on hand.” Don’t stress out about making substitutions because of preference or necessity.

Brown the sausage, remove from the pan, and drain on paper towels.

Dust the chicken with 1 T gumbo filé (or sage).

Brown chicken in the sausage fat. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Add the chicken, sausage, and rest of the okra to the gumbo.

Cover the pot and simmer the gumbo over a medium-low heat for 45 minutes.

Serve over rice for a very hearty meal!