Ah Fall, time to cozy up with blankets and hot drinks and soup for dinner. I was super inspired by the many posts I have been seeing about “Tiana’s Gumbo” on Facebook, but it seemed like every recipe was so very different. I’m not going to lie to you… I have never had Gumbo before. I know, I know. Shame shame. I just didn’t even know where to start!
I for one, am SHOCKED! Going to have to try it next time we are at the Royal Street Veranda in Disneyland I think.
So when Erica asked me to make Gumbo for Danny’s 40th birthday Disneyland-themed bash, I was up for the challenge! Armed with our mama to help, because “mother knows best,” I started looking online at recipes.
What is Gumbo?
Gumbo is very similar to Jambalaya, but Jambalaya uses a rice base and though Gumbo is served ON rice it never cooks WITH it. Also, Gumbo uses a roux to thicken up and is more soup-like.
One thing that gets me is the inconsistency between recipes as to what makes Gumbo well… Gumbo! After much comparison, it seems the main things are the sausage, and the roux, and the spice!
As it is more traditional, we know we want to have okra in our version. Now, okra isn’t an ingredient I’ve ever actually used, because I’ve never known what to do with it. Goodness, I didn’t even know where to find it! Superstore, Walmart, Fruiticana… literally anywhere :D. The frozen vegetable section of your grocery store may have it as well. Cooking okra can make it slimy, but the viscosity actually helps thicken your Gumbo.
The other thing we had trouble tracking down here in Canada was andouille sausage. (I called every single meat supply store in the Lower Mainland and only found ONE store that had it!) We decided to substitute it out with double smoked sausage and I think it worked really well. Thank goodness everything else was pretty standard!
I also don’t like shrimp, so that is something you can add if you would like. Tiana definitely uses shrimp in her recipe. Cubed chicken or steak are a great substitute for shrimp. There are lots of recipes that have all 3 meats if that is something you are interested in. Honestly it seems to me like spaghetti sauce… every family has its own version! So feel free to play around or even combine recipes!
In fact, Heidi has a great version on our Insta story highlights with measurements if you want to check it out as well! Her version uses a nuttier roux, which comes from cooking it longer. Definitely watch it to see how beautiful the colour she gets is! Roux is flour and a fat cooked together and is used to thicken soups or sauces. You can use butter, oil, bacon or sausage fat. The flour is added to the fat and cooked over heat until the desired level of brownness is achieved. To get a proper roux, cook low and slow with patience. The richness a dark brown roux adds to your gumbo will be worth it!
How Do You Make It?
So let’s get cooking!
You can either used pre-cooked chicken (such as rotisserie chicken, or just leftover cooked chicken/turkey you might have in your freezer), or you can cook it in the pot on cook day.
We decided to cook ours in the pot to get some tasty brown bits to add flavour to the gumbo. If you are using an Instant Pot, put it on sear and heat your oil to cook up some chopped up chicken, or just use a stove top soup pot. Brown them up until almost fully cooked and add the chopped up sausage to brown it a bit as well. Remove to a bowl for later, covering to keep warm.
Add butter to the pan and allow to melt before adding in your chopped celery, onion, and peppers. Cook until the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes) and then add in your garlic, cooking just until fragrant (30 seconds… don’t let it burn!). Add the rest of your spices and toast for a minute before you stir in your flour to make a roux and allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. The colour of the roux will impact the flavour of the Gumbo, a darker roux will result in a richer deeper flavour. For the Instant Pot I would make the roux in a separate pan on the stove top. Start your roux before you prep everything else so that it has time to develop some colour.
Slowly add in your broth and cook for about 5 minutes before adding in your can of tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes and then add in your cooked chicken, sausage, and okra. If you double the amount like we did it will help the Gumbo to thicken, but it isn’t necessary. We mainly wanted to use the entire package of okra up.
Serving It Up
This recipe is better if you serve it the next day, as it will continue to thicken and the flavours will develop… but this is not a necessity, you can definitely eat it right away! Gumbo freezes really well so we do like to make a double batch. This particular version was so good, that we ate it all up and there were no leftovers!
We served ours up with some rice at the bottom of the bowl (if you want to be really creative you can press it into a Mickey cookie cutter to make it Mickey shaped!), and then ladled our Gumbo on top!
If you want to be REALLY fancy you can serve it up in a bread bowl instead of over rice (I recommend sourdough but honestly any bread roll will do). Or do both… we won’t judge!
Feel free to hit it up with a dash of Tabasco sauce and it’ll be the bee’s knees!
For more Disney Recipes, check out the rest of our ideas here.
And if you want to pick up your own Mickey Mouse cookie cutter you can do so here!
Have a magical day!
Danielle, Erica and Heidi
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