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Chicken and Oyster Gumbo

Serves 5 to 6

The first time I made gumbo, I followed a recipe that included chicken, seafood and smoked sausage. It was very good but, in my opinion, the sausage overpowered the flavor of the seafood. I have since made gumbo with all seafood, and gumbo with chicken and sausage. When I first made this recipe, I had some oysters on hand and decided to add some chicken thighs. It is absolutely delicious. When you know the basics of gumbo preparation, you can alter the main ingredients any way you desire. Despite the number of ingredients, this is an easy and comforting main dish.

Ingredients

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat just enough oil to cover the bottom of a large soup pot over high heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and drain off all but 5 tablespoons of the fat, or add olive oil to make 5 tablespoons. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. Cook, stirring often, until the roux is golden, about 20 minutes. Add the onions, peppers and celery to the pan. Sauté until the vegetables are slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Return the chicken to the pot. Add the oyster liquid, broth, water, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, 1 teaspoon filé powder, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until chicken is done, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions for 6 servings. Keep warm over very low heat.

Remove the chicken from the pot; discard the bones and skin and cut into bite-sized pieces. Return the chicken, along with the oysters, to the pot. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons filé powder. Cook just until the oysters are hot, about 5 minutes. Serve gumbo over cooked rice, passing hot sauce for those who want more.

Notes: Whenever I make a dish with seafood that uses liquid, I like to use seafood broth to enhance the flavor. I usually make my own with discarded shrimp or lobster peels, then freeze for recipes like this. Store-bought seafood broth can be used. However, this gumbo is still very tasty if additional chicken broth is substituted for the seafood broth.