GUMBO - Daring Cook's Challenge - May / 2011


Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

As a Louisiana native, Besh describes gumbo as “the footprint of who we are and where we come from – a cultural stew. Africans gave us their word for okra, kingombo; Native Americans dried and powdered their sassafras leaves to make the thickener called filé; the French brought us their fat and flour base called roux; the Spanish, their sofrito, comprising what we call the holy trinity: onion, celery, and bell peppers. Croatians added oysters and shrimp; the Italians, a little tomato. Germans brought their andouille sausage, and the Caribbeans, their bright spices. And still today newcomers will leave their imprint on our beloved gumbo, and we’ll all be better for it.”

We first tried Gumbo many years ago in Texas, USA. My husband was fascinated by this dish. Before we traveled back home we bought a few boxes of  ZATARAIN'S® Gumbo Base, but they were quickly consumed and I never attempted Gumbo again. Actually, I always wanted to try the real deal, but never got around to making it though I had researched a bit and even made the Creole Spice Mix. So, I don't have to say how excited I was for this month's challenge, do I? My husband put a huge smile on his face when I told him I was making Gumbo!

Denise provided recipes for 3 types of Gumbo: Seafood Gumbo, Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, and Vegetarian Gumbo. I chose Chicken & Sausage.Time to go hunting for ingredients here in Korea. I knew this was going to be a challenge on its own. 

I couldn't find a good smoked sausage here, so I decided to use smoked chicken and the Andouille Sausage for my Gumbo. I managed to find some of the spices needed and some of them I already had at home, had to adapt a little. Okra was also found in a foreigner's Mart near my home. It was frozen, though. Filé Powder was not found, but it was an optional ingredient, so I omitted it, but I would really like to try it someday. Denise taught us how to make our own chicken stock from scratch using the bones and carcass of the chicken. So far, so good.

When I got home from the supermarket, I found out that the smoked chicken I had bought was actually DUCK!!! Where were you, duck, a few months ago when I needed you for the Cassoulet? Now you show up without any notice!! Well, that's what happens when you can't read Korean. No problem, I thought, duck is what I got, Duck Gumbo is what we'll have.

First step of the recipe was to make the chicken duck stock, and for that I would need the bones and carcass. I opened the package and one more surprise. The duck was deboned! Oh My God!! What am I going to do, I thought. I quickly decided to make the stock with the smoked skin instead. In the beginning, the smell was wonderful, but after 15 minutes simmering, it was just too overwhelming and I couldn't stand the smell anymore and opened all the windows in the house. I was afraid the stock wouldn't be usable, but I continued cooking until the end. When it was ready, I skimmed the stock and left it there, untouched while I was prepping the rest of the recipe. To my surprise, at the time of using the stock, it smelled really good and I was very happy about that.

I intended to follow the recipe to a T, but I was forced to adapt here and there. Seems like this dish is highly adaptable! In the end the Gumbo was fantastic! I got rave reviews from my husband and I'm sure I'll be making it again and again. 

Denise, I can't thank you enough for hosting this amazing and delicious challenge!

If you would like to see all the amazing Gumbos my fellow Daring Cooks have made, please visit THE DARING KITCHEN where you can also find the original recipes and guidelines for this challenge.

(Adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh)
 Serves 4 

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup (70g) flour
1 large onion
1.3 kg smoked duck, deboned 
1 tbsp basic Creole Spice
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green bell pepper
1/2 tomato seeded and chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
dash of dry thyme
1.5 l Smoked Duck Stock
1 bay leaf
2 Andouille sausages
1 cup fresh okra
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste
2-3 cups cooked white rice


1. Prepare smoked duck stock (recipe below).

2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices (recipe below).

3. Season the duck pieces with about 1 tablespoon of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.

4. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

6. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

7. Add smoked duck to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces for about 5 minutes.

8. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.

9. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.

10. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

11. Simmer for 45 minutes, remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. 

For the Duck Stock:

1/4 cup canola oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 leek, white part only, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
All the skin removed from the smoked duck
1 bay leaf
dash of dry thyme
1 tsp black peppercorn
1.5 l water


1. Heat the canola oil in a large stockpot over moderate heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, leeks, and garlic. Stir often, until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the smoked duck skin, the bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, and water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, uncovered, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, until the stock has reduced by half, about 2 hours.

3. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean container. Allow the stock to cool, cover and refrigerate, then skim off the fat. Use immediately, or freeze for later use.

Basic Creole Spices:
(From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh)
Makes ½ cup


2 tablespoons (30 ml) (33 gm) celery salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) sweet paprika
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (18 gm) coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (6 gm) freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) garlic powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) onion powder
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (4 gm) cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) ground allspice

Above  are the original ingredients, but I couldn't find celery salt nor allspice. However, I have a steak seasoning mix in my pantry that contains celery, salt, black pepper, onion, and cayenne pepper. Also, I have a Kibbeh spice mix I brought from Brazil that contains cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and black pepper, which I used to substitute allspice. So, my adapted Creole Spice Mix ended up like this:

2 tbsp steak seasoning
1/4 tsp Kibbeh Spice Mix
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp Korean red pepper flakes


Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.


  1. Ahh Your pictures turned out so pretty!!! I am making mine RIGHt at this second! It smells sooo good!

  2. Love your gumbo and rice. It is signature dish of Neworleans. Can you find out veggie version for me.

  3. Your photos are so beautiful! And your gumbo looks divine!

  4. Your non-chicken gumbo came out so beautifully, and your photos are amazing. I wish I could taste it right through the screen. Excellent job working with what you could find and turning it into a beautiful and delicious gumbo!!

  5. I just love your creation. The plating and pictures are breath taking.
    and I loved the description at the begining.
    wonderful job as always

  6. Your duck gumbo sounds fantastic - I would go out of my way to make that! Funny that it was sort of an accident! Great job with the challenge!

  7. I think it was a happy accident that you ended up with smoked duck... sounds amazing!!

  8. Too funny that the duck showed up now, when it was wanted a few months ago... Happy little accidents, I guess, as your gumbo looks amazing. The heart shaped presentation is lovely (no pun intended), and I am truly amazed by your talent, enthusiasm and genuin support!!

  9. I love the hearts. You are fantastic at working with the challenges; the fact that you never give up is inspiring. I'm glad your gumbo was so well received.

  10. Those dishes are to die for so so cute!. I'm glad after all that searching you made such a delicious and gorgeous gumbo (indeed I think duck would have been better than chicken) wonderful that the duck skin stock worked out so well in the end. Stunning results I hope the other gumbos you make work out as well. Lovely colour to the liquid in the gumbo.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  11. Those are great little dishes! Now you know where to find smoked duck! I love it. Nice to have with crostini or something like that. Great gumbo!

  12. What a pleasant surprise--duck instead of chicken! It looks so rich and delicious. Excellent job Renata!

  13. Great job on your gumbo, it looks delicious! :) And i love the heart-shaped bowls, they are adorable!

  14. Your Gumbo looks delicious. And I like your presentation, very cute :)

  15. Beautiful presentation, Renata! I wish I could try your duck gumbo, I love duck in almost any form and shape :-).

  16. I was laughing when you mentioned picking up a smoked chicken only to discover it was duck! It always works that way, doesn't it? When you need it, no dice, when you don't..always available lol

    That said..wow, not only does your gumbo sound delicious with the andoiulle and smoked duck, but the color is amazing, great roux! Also..your presentation with those gorgeous little heart dishes is stunning! Beautifully done as always :)

  17. LOVE the heart dishes! Oh my a fancy duck gumbo? You might be the first ever to do that. It really looks delicious.

  18. Great job! That is too funny about not finding duck for the cassoulet but accentually buying one for gumbo! Hehe, too funny! I also love the quote/description about the origins of gumbo at the beginning - I never realized what a true melting pot of cuisines it was!

  19. Sneaky duck hehe. I adore your love heart rice and serving dishes, simply gorgeous


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