Awesome during cold weather. When cooked correctly (as I'll explain below), it's one of the best things in the world.
Gumbo is only as good as the ingredients you put into it. I buy hens from a poultry market and get the smoked sausage from one of several butcher shops / smokehouses that make their own.
You also need a good blend in the cajun seasoning you use for the chicken / hen. Too much salt can be bad. There are so many cajun seasonings these days and the manufacturers like to cut corners by adding more and more salt.
You can order some decent stuff from cajun grocer. Here's a link to the sausage:
For the seasoning use this one:
or make your own - http://www.notacult.com/wiki/Ass_Pounding_Cajun_Seasoning
If you can find the sausage in your town cool, you may see it in the refrigerated goods section. If not, order two packages of the one in link.
Go to a market in your town and buy a chicken, but if you can get a hen its even better (try a butcher or meat market, or the best is a poultry specialty store). Buy it cut up already. If its a butcher shop and they can "double cut" it for you its better. It just means it's the way a normal chicken is cut up but all the pieces are cut once more.
Season the chicken/hen very well with the Tony Chachere's I showed in the link. If you buy your Tony Chachere's in a store (they have it all over the country), make sure you get the "more spice" version. The regular is way too salty.
Dice 1 medium yellow onion and 1 green bellpepper.
You also need about 3 tablespoons of minced or chopped garlic. See if you can buy it already minced in a jar, its usually sold in the produce section.
The last thing you need is roux. I wouldn't suggest trying to make it yourself, even though its just flour and oil cooked until it turns brown. Its VERY easy to burn it and screw it up so just buy a jar of it. You can find it all over in grocery stores here in Louisiana, and usually in the "cajun" section of other places if they have one. If you can't find it you can order it here:
That's all you need besides a big pot, water, and long grain rice. For the rice I use a a skillet with a cover. (a plate will work if it can cover your skillet.)
1 hen / chicken cut up, preferable double cut (you can also use duck, goose, turkey if you want, it all has its own appeal )
2 packs (about 6 links) = about 3 lbs of smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
1 med yellow onion diced
1 green bellpepper diced
3 tablespoons minced or chopped garlic
Cajun seasoning - any will work but check to see how salty it is, you can make it yourself using my recipe here - http://www.notacult.com/wiki/Ass_Pounding_Cajun_Seasoning
Roux - 1/2 jar which = about 1 cup
long grain rice - 2 cups should be fine, I like to use jasmine or thai rice
1 large soup pot, 6 - 12 quart range
1 skillet or small pot with cover for rice cooking (plates work just fine to cover)
== Preparation Instructions ==
(read this fully BEFORE starting to cook)
Gumbo takes a minimum of 3 hours to prepare properly, so make sure you have at least that much time.
Start boiling some water. I usually fill the gumbo pot about 1/2 to 3/4 full. This is an area where you have to use your own judgement really, and you can usually tell after you've made a few gumbos how you're going to like it.
The whole point is to mix in the proper amount of roux to water. This will determine the overall thickness of it in the end. For a 1 chicken gumbo I'd use an 8-quart pot that looks like this:
I'd fill it about 2/3 full and use about 2/3 the jar of roux.
Once the water is boiling add the roux in with a spoon. If you buy a jar there will usually be about 1/2 inch of oil sitting on top of the roux, just pour that out.
Once you get the roux in there you'll want to stir it with a long spoon every few minutes until the roux is well dissolved. Once there's no longer any big hunks of roux in there, turn the heat down to about 50% and let it boil for an hour. Check it from time to time to make sure its not boiling too hard because it can boil over and make a mess, but at the same time you want it boiling hot enough to see some action.
While the roux is boiling for the hour, this is where you can dice your onion and bellpepper and garlic if necessary. I usually put in these ingredients as I chop them. It doesn't really matter if you put them in all at once because they'll mostly dissolve in the end.
During this time chop up your sausage if you haven't already.
Put the sausage in and boil it for another hour. You may have to adjust your heat from time to time. Just make sure it doesn't boil too high or too low.
During the last 20 minutes or so, you can brown the chicken. This part is pretty much optional. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't. However, make sure your chicken is well-seasoned with the cajun seasoning before continuing either way.
Browning the bird
Get an iron skillet or a black iron pot or even a magnalite pot, turn it on high and put the chicken in. Use a spatula or large spoon and move it around in there to make sure it doesn't burn. The point is to get it as hot and cooked on the outside as possible without burning it. You ideally want it to get sort of tanned to brown in most spots. I always keep a glass of water, or even better a bottle or can of beer handy. When it gets too hot and the chicken sticks I pour a little liquid in there to loosen it up.
As the parts get good and brown, usually only takes about 10 minutes or so, I put them into the gumbo. I also do the hearts, gizzards, neck if they're available. I don't eat them myself but they do add flavor to the gumbo so go ahead put them in there. Some people love em.
Also when I'm done browning the chicken I pour a little beer or water into the skillet or pot and scrape everything off the bottom of it with high heat going. It makes this sort of "greasy gravy", then I turn off the heat and pour that into the gumbo.
If you use chicken (called a fryer usually), it will take about 1 hour to cook, and then the gumbo will be done. A hen usually takes closer to 2 hours to get tender, but tastes better in most people's opinion here in Cajunland.
About 20 or so minutes before the gumbo is done, you make the rice. We also like to make a garlic bread in the oven around this time, and perhaps a salad and brew some tea.
Skimming (I highly reccommend it)
Get a metal spoon and a mug and skim the grease floating on the top of the gumbo. Much better to prevent heartburn.
Making rice - http://www.notacult.com/wiki/Rice_on_the_stove