Real Louisiana Gumbo


1 gallon oyster water
1 cup roux (equal parts flour and oil)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 pounds hen, cut into large pieces
2 pounds andouille (smoked sausage made with pork and garlic), cut into bite-size pieces
1 gallon oysters
2 teaspoons gumbo file (or to taste)
salt and pepper


In a large pot, bring the oyster water to a boil. Dissolve the roux in the boiling water, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the onion, celery, pepper, and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the hen (hen is used because the tougher meat stands up better than chicken to the long cooking time) and andouille. Simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Add the oysters and boil for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the gumbo file and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.


8 main-course servings

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The recipe sounds tasty but I

The recipe sounds tasty but I was wondering what is gumbo file?

Gumbo file is an herb made

Gumbo file is an herb made from Sassafrass leaves. It isn't readily available unless you live way down south and it really doesn't have to be used. Another person mentioned OKRA which is a vegetable also not easily found up north. Some bigger chain grocery stores may stock it in the frozen vegetable section but it isn't the same as using fresh okra and fresh okra is non existant up north.

File (pronounced fee-lay) is

File (pronounced fee-lay) is dried sassafras leaves. It has a mildly pungent, distinctive, flavor, similar to sage or tarragon. Like all such spices, it best fresh and will taste dusty or dull if old.

If you live where sassafras trees do not grow, you may be able to find fresher dried sassafras leaves at herbal stores. Just crush in your hand before adding at the last minute to gumbo. If you must resort to retail file powder, try to get some from a supplier who will guarantee its freshness or someone in the South who can send you some from a reputable store.

The flavor of file will "cook out" if heated too long or if the gumbo is frozen.

Its not a GUMBO unless you

Its not a GUMBO unless you add OKRA other wise its only soup ,, in some of the African languages Okra= Gumbo

File is always the last ingredient to be added ,,

Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler !

This recipe left out the most

This recipe left out the most important step ... how to make the roux which is the base of a good gumbo recipe. You can't just mix flour and oil and dump it in a pot of boiling water. It has to be cooked so that the flour browns well. If someone has never made a roux before and they read this recipe, they would just mix flour and oil without cooking it over low heat first. I grew up in north Louisiana and Gumbo was a staple at our house every Friday during Lent. We didn't use oysters either. My favorite gumbo is Shrimp gumbo which I will be making for dinner tomorrow night. File is non existant here in western NY state so I do have to make my gumbo without it. It isn't a necessary ingredient for those who don't have access to this herb. If you don't have time to make it from scratch, look for Zatarains Gumbo Base or Zatarain's Gumbo Mix with Rice in your local grocery stores in the area where the rice mixes are located. It is as close to Home made as you can get and it is fast and inexpensive. You just add your own chicken, sausage or seafood and in less than 30 minutes you have a large pot of gumbo.

With so many families trying to make ends meet in this struggling economy, a large pot of gumbo will easily feed a family of 6 or 8 very inexpensively.Add a salad and some crusty french bread and you have a very nutritious and hearty meal for next to nothing.

Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler !

Yuk! Grew up making gumbo

Yuk! Grew up making gumbo and never put oysters in it. Gumbo is a "poor man's" stew -crawdads, squirrel, rabbit, chicken if you can get it - never crab or oysters which are better prepared in other ways.

BTW - file (pronounced fee'-lay) is dried, powdered sassafras leaves. Like sage, it is only good when fresh and stored correctly.Most of the drek in the northern stores is way past its prime - gotta find someone in the South who can send you a little container once a year or check your health or natural food stores that carry herbals. Look for sassafras leaves, not tea.

On the Gulf coast of

On the Gulf coast of Louisiana, we always put oysters in our gumbo. Oyster fishermen ARE poor people that make gumbo too.