Slow-Cooker Chicken Gumbo
Gumbo is a celebrated Cajun and Creole stew of many variations, often starring meat and seafood, all richly flavored with a toasty roux. The precise origins of the word gumbo are often debated, but it’s likely derived from West African, Central African and Choctaw languages. Okra and roux are fundamental to gumbo; filé powder, or ground sassafras leaves, is sometimes added to help thicken the stew. It is certainly not traditional to make gumbo in a slow cooker, but it works beautifully: Microwaving the roux and precooking the vegetables in the ceramic (never metal) insert minimizes hands-on time and clean up without sacrificing that deep flavor. This recipe is highly customizable: Add sliced andouille sausage before cooking, or toss in raw shrimp 10 minutes before serving. Use bone-in, skin-on chicken if you prefer, and fresh okra instead of frozen.
- Serves: 5 persons
- ½cup all-purpose flour
- ½cup vegetable oil
- 8garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
- 2celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1white onion, finely chopped
- 1green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2tablespoons tomato paste
- 2teaspoons coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2fresh or dried bay leaves
- 2teaspoons sweet or hot paprika
- 1teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1teaspoon garlic powder
- ½teaspoon ground cayenne, plus more to taste
- ½teaspoon dried thyme
- Black pepper
- 3cups chicken stock or broth
- 1 ½to 1¾ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1-pound bag frozen sliced okra (optional)
- Cooked rice, for serving
- Sliced scallions and hot sauce, for topping (optional)
Step 1In the insert of a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker, whisk the flour and oil together until evenly combined. (If your insert doesn’t fit in your microwave use a large microwave-safe bowl.) Microwave on full power for 5 minutes, then whisk well. Using oven mitts, rotate the insert or bowl if your microwave doesn’t rotate, then microwave for 5 minutes more and whisk again. Rotate again if necessary, then microwave for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the roux is the color of milky coffee or peanut butter.
Step 2Stir the garlic, celery, onion, bell pepper, tomato paste and salt into the roux until evenly combined. Microwave for 8 minutes, until softened. Using mitts, remove the insert and set it into the slow cooker base. (If using a separate container, scrape the mixture out into the slow cooker.) Stir in the bay leaves, paprikas, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir in the chicken stock and chicken thighs. Cook on low until the chicken is very tender, about 5 hours.
Step 3About 15 minutes before the gumbo is done, add the frozen okra, if using. Before eating, remove and discard the bay leaves and break the chicken apart into coarse pieces by pressing the chicken against the walls of the insert with a large spoon or spatula. Taste for seasoning and add more black pepper, salt and cayenne if you like.
Step 4Serve the gumbo in bowls topped with hot rice and scallions. Pass hot sauce at the table if you like.