Chicken and sausage gumbo

(Food styling/karoline boehm goodnik; jonathan wiggs/globe staff)
By Karoline Boehm Goodnik
Globe Correspondent / February 4, 2009

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Serves 8

Sometimes called the national dish of Louisiana, gumbo has as many versions as the state has cooks. Seafood gumbo, thickened with okra, is often served in the warmer months. Heartier meat or game gumbos typically make an appearance when temperatures aren't surging into the hundreds. The soul of gumbo is the roux, a mixture of fat and flour, which lends richness and texture. Gumbo roux differs from others by its long cooking time over low heat. If the roux gets too dark while you're cooking it, discard it and start over. File powder, made from sassafras leaves, is another element that thickens gumbo (most recipes don't use both file and okra). Ladle the dish over rice and splash with hot sauce.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup flour
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 1/2 quarts water
12 ounces andouille sausage, thickly sliced
File powder (for sprinkling)
1. In a soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Brown them for 3 minutes on a side over high heat, turning once. Transfer to paper towels.

2. In the same pot, heat the remaining 1 cup of oil over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the roux is light brown.

3. Stir in the onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, thyme, cayenne, and paprika. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes more.

4. Stir in the water. Return the chicken to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 1 hour.

5. Remove the chicken from the pot. Add the sausage and cook for 10 minutes.

6. Discard the chicken skin and bones; shred the meat. Add the meat to the pot with more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with file and hot sauce. Karoline Boehm Goodnick