Use my recipe and make the roux a rich, deep milk chocolate brown, and I guarantee you'll win!
CHICKEN, SAUSAGE AND SHRIMP GUMBO
1 cup vegetable oil
1¼ cup all purpose flour
The Gumbo Base
1 fryer chicken (about 3 pounds), cut up
2 pounds Polish or Creole smoked sausage, sliced ¼-inch thick
3 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 medium tomato, chopped
¾ cup green onions, including tops (except tough ends), chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 ½ pounds okra, sliced ½-inch thick (for thickening)
2 pounds whole fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave a few unpeeled)
crab, conch or other seafood as available (optional)
Seasonings and Liquid
3 quarts water, or more as needed
2 teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
3 whole bay leaves, crushed
½ teaspoon Tabasco® or Marie Sharp's® hot sauce
NOTE: Feel free to substitute ingredients according to what is available or to taste. For example, you can add crab, conch or other seafood in addition to, or in place of, shrimp. You can also add or delete vegetables in the base – perhaps celery instead of tomato – and also use beer and/or chicken broth for part of the liquid.
Prepare and assemble the ingredients for the gumbo base and for seasonings.
Then heat vegetable oil in large 10-quart or larger cooking pot on medium-high heat. Add cut-up chicken and brown thoroughly on all sides. Remove chicken to plate and keep warm in 185 degree oven.
Make the roux by gradually adding the flour to the chicken-flavored oil in the pot, stirring constantly. Cook over low to medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the roux becomes dark brown -- the color of milk chocolate. If in doubt about the color of the roux, err on the side of making it too dark rather than too light. This may take 20 to 30 minutes. To get the dark brown color, you may have to slightly increase the heat level to near medium, but be careful not to actually burn the roux. Essentially you are letting the flour almost but not quite burn in the oil, and the stirring scrapes off the slightly browned flour from the bottom of the pan, slowing making the roux darker and darker.
When the roux reaches the right color, quickly add the sausage, onion, green pepper, green onions, garlic, parsley and tomato. It smells incredible! Keep cooking over low to medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add ½ cup of the water, the browned chicken and all the seasonings. Mix gently but thoroughly. Increase heat to medium and slowly add all the rest of the water. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it boils, reduce heat to low and simmer. Add about one-fourth of the shrimp, including the unpeeled shrimp. Simmer for about 1 1/4 hours or until chicken is tender.
Remove about half the chicken with a little sausage and refrigerate, saving for another meal.
Add okra and simmer over low heat for another ½ hour. Add remainder of shrimp and simmer until shrimp are pink and done. Serve in bowls over boiled rice, accompanied by crusty New Orleans-style crusty, light French bread. Serves 10 to 12, or more.