In the mid 1990’s I was fortunate enough to have traveled to New Orleans twice. They were both high school trips for, I hate to admit, marching band which I played the clarinet (quit laughing). We were a small school band that was able to march in a couple of the Mardi Gras parades including the largest, The Krewe of Endymion. I think the first year we went Kenny Rogers and Patrick Duffy were the Grand Marshals of the parade.

That was when I got my first taste of Creole food. I ate my weight in Po Boy sandwiches stuffed with delicately fried seafood. I sampled all styles of gumbo and jambalaya, red Beans and rice with pralines and beignets for dessert. Sadly, my palette was not developed enough to try the crawfish or frog legs but I was hooked on everything New Orleans. That was why, when asked where I would like to go for a honeymoon, I suggested New Orleans. I wanted Betsy to experience the food, the culture and the distinct French feel of the city.

For years, I have been trying to perfect my gumbo recipe and finally I hit upon the right base recipe and the exact ratio of ingredients. Granted, my gumbo recipe detracts from the common form of Gumbo in New Orleans but it retains the distinct flavors that could only be Louisiana. I also like this recipe because it uses the Instant Pot so it takes much less time to infuse the gumbo with the right flavors. However, slow cooking will work just as well but I would add a few hours to the cook time.

Louisiana Style Stew bursting with Cajun Flavor

Ingredients

  • 10 oz Frozen Cut Okra (*Fresh Okra if you’re lucky)
  • 4 tbsp Salted Butter (which is half a stick)
  • 1 Yellow Onion (Large and Finely Diced)
  • 1 Green Bell Peppers (Finely Diced)
  • 6 Stalks Celery (finely diced with leafy tops)
  • 1 bunch Scallions (Sliced)
  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (Cut into Small Chunks)
  • 1 lb Andouille Sausage or any smoked cajun-style sausage you wish to use (Cut into ¼” – 1″ Slices depending on your preference)
  • 1 lb Kielbasa (I use this to add additional sausage but without the spice)
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tbsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (or you can use any Louisiana Cajun/Creole Seasoning if you can’t find this), divided)
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth (I used 4 tsp of Chicken Better Than Bouillon + 4 cups of water)
  • 4 cups Ham Broth (if I do not have the ham broth I double the Chicken Broth)
  • 2 14.5 oz Diced Tomatoes (Cans)
  • 1/4 tsp Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet
  • 1 tsp Zatarain’s Crab Boil concentrate
  • 4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice (Half a Fresh Lemon)
  • 2 tbsp Garlic (Minced/Crushed)</li><li>2 tsp Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (Adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 lb Shrimp (Peeled and deveined (tail on or off), lightly rubbed in some more Tony Chachere’s seasoning)
  • 1/3 cup Ketchup

Slurry

  • 3 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp Water

Optional Items

  • 1/2 cup Cooked White Rice (To add in each finished bowl (I do not add the rice since it is something my wife finds gross with tomato based dishes. I have also found it is really un-needed since the gumbo is perfect without it)
  • Lance Captain’s Wafers, Oyster Crackers or Club crackers, for crumbling (again, something I do not add since the dish does not require it

Instructions

Thaw the frozen okra if you are using frozen by placing it in a strainer and running hot water over it until it becomes room temperature and breaks apart. Set aside

Add the butter to the Instant Pot, hit “Sauté” and Adjust so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. Once the butter melted and is bubbling, add in the onions, bell pepper, celery and white part of the scallions. Cook for 5 minutes until softened

Now add in the sausage and chicken and cook for another 3-5 minutes in the butter with the vegetables and cook until the sausage is lightly cooked and the chicken is white (it shouldn’t be fully cooked). When done, remove the liner pot and dump the veggies, chicken and sausage in a large bowl and set aside (it’s okay if a few stragglers remain in the pot)

Next, create the Cajun roux (which is a thickening base and gives a Gumbo its color) by adding in the vegetable oil, flour and 1 tsp of the Tony Chachere’s Creole/Cajun seasoning. Whisk/stir often for a solid 5 minutes until it becomes a nicely browned roux (the color should look like peanut butter) Note: Make sure you whisk often/constantly or it will want to burn onto the pot. Deglaze (scrape the bottom of the pot) often with a wooden spatula or spoon

After about 5 minutes of stirring and once the roux is beginning to darken, add the Gravy Master, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and Zatarain’s crab boil. The roux will puff up now! Add the garlic and stir for another minute

Now, add in the ham broth, chicken broth and diced tomatoes. Deglaze the bottom of the pot again to make sure none of the roux is sticking to it. Then add in the other 1.5 tbsp of Tony Chachere’s Creole/Cajun seasoning, light brown sugar, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and dried thyme. Stir well and add back in the chicken and sausage

Secure the lid, hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 10 minutes (it will take 10-15 mins to come to pressure considering how much is in the hot so just be a little patient). When done, perform a 10 minute natural release followed by a quick release

When the lid comes off, hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Sauté” and Adjust so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. Stir in the okra and the softer, greener half of the scallions. Once bubbling, add in the cornstarch slurry and ketchup and let bubble for 2 minutes

Don’t forget to enjoy with your favorite Corn Bread.

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