A Chicken Gumbo


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Slow Cook Modern

Slow Cook Modern

By Liana Krissoff

Published 2017

  • About

If you have toasted flour left over from the Romanian chicken stew, you can use about 6 tablespoons (about 35 g) of it here instead of the roux, though it will yield a somewhat less dark and rich gumbo. I find that gumbo is great on its own, but if you have the energy you might wish to cook a pot of long-grain white or brown rice and serve a small scoop in each bowl to ladle the gumbo around.


  • 2 pounds (910 g) well-trimmed boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 (28-ounce/794-g) can whole tomatoes with their juice
  • 2 small ribs celery, cut into ½-inch (12-mm) pieces
  • 4 ounces (115 g) smoked ham, pulled into shreds or chopped (you can cut the meat off a ham hock, if you’d like)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
  • ½ cup (65 g) all-purpose flour
  • Ground cayenne and/or Cajun seasoning blend
  • Filé powder (see Note)



Toss the chicken with the thyme, several pinches of salt, and several grindings of pepper. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the chicken (work in batches if necessary) and cook, turning with a thin metal spatula, until the pieces are browned on one or two sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to the slow cooker.

To the skillet, add the onion and a little more oil, if needed, and cook over medium heat until just softened, about 3 minutes. Pour some of the tomato juices from the can into the hot skillet, scraping up any browned bits, then scrape into the cooker and add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hand as you do. Add the celery, ham, and bay leaf and put the bell pepper on top of everything. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Make a roux: In a large clean and dry skillet or sauté pan, combine the remaining ½ cup (120 ml) oil and the flour. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring almost constantly with a heatproof spatula and/or a whisk, until it’s the color of coffee with just a touch of cream, about 15 minutes—be careful not to splash it onto yourself or others (it’s hot), and watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. Scrape into a heatproof bowl and let cool completely.


Using a slotted spoon, remove most of the solid ingredients (chicken, vegetables) from the gumbo to a bowl. Pour off the layer of excess oil that will have risen to the top of the roux, then use an immersion blender to blend the sludgy roux into the liquid in the cooker. Return the chicken and vegetables to the cooker, season with more salt and cayenne and/or Cajun seasoning, if needed, and serve with a small bowl of filé so people can add it to their gumbo if they’d like.