Mardi Gras Gluten Free Gumbo

Gluten Free GumboI am a Rocky Mountain girl, so have never ventured much into Cajun cuisine. But, what the heck – it’s Fat Tuesday, the first day of Mardi Gras! I decided to look to one of my favorite chef/food megastars, John Besh, for inspiration and a basic know-how and I set out to make gumbo for the first time in my life.

In honor of the festive season, I bought myself a cookbook. (( Isn’t this what all foodies do to celebrate?))  Anyway, if you haven’t seen it – check out this work-of-art cookbook/journal of cajun culture and cuisine: “My New Orleans: The Cookbook.” I couldn’t put it down and read it just like a lonely housewife reading a romance novel! Highly recommend it for your Mardi Gras splurge! I followed Chef Besh’s methods but changed the ingredients up a bit, of course – I’m a food blogger!

Anne, my amazing daughter/co-blogger, and the curly headed Miss Lily are here and they eat gluten-free, so I entered another new culinary frontier: gluten-free roux. I substituted rice flour for the usual all-purpose wheat and the roux still thickened and turned a deep mahogany brown. BTW, if you’ve never made a dark roux, learn from my mistake: Unless your house is on fire or someone is bleeding or unconscious, DO NOT leave your roux unattended. It may look okay, it may even look light brown on top, but if you don’t stir it frequently, it WILL burn on the bottom. Trust me.

I added a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, something my Grandma always did. Maybe it’s just a retro comfort thing for me, but I swear it adds depth and a mellow flavor to soups. Try it when you make your next homemade soup and test me out. Or test my Grandma – she won’t mind. She’s somewhere making celestial soup now!

Oh, and, Okay, NEWS FLASH for Chef Besh, if you’re reading this: No one has rendered chicken fat on hand. NO ONE. But I think peanut or canola oil, with their high smoke points, work well getting the roux to a nice brown without burning. Who wants to render chicken fat, anyway? Sheesh! And c’mon, no grocery store carries duck these days – but luckily the dark meat of chicken thighs is a whole lot more practical and much more frugal.


This recipe makes a HUGE batch!
Serves 10 to 12; Prep and cook time 2 and 1/2 hours

1 cup peanut or canola oil, divided
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 skinless bone-in chicken thighs
1 cup rice flour
10 cups chicken broth
8 ounces Andouille sausage, or other spicy smoked sausage
2 cups fresh or frozen okra, sliced into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon file powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce, or cayenne pepper sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat over medium high heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven or large stockpot. Place chicken in pan and saute about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside.

Pour remaining oil into pan. Slowly whisk in rice flour. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, whisking frequently so as not to burn. Simmer slowly for about 10 to 12 minutes, whisking frequently until roux is a medium  brown. Stir in diced onions and continue to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently until onions are translucent. Stir in celery and bell pepper. Slowly whisk in the broth. Return the chicken to the pot. Lower heat to lowest setting and cover and slowly simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally to make sure bottom is not burning.

Add in Andouille sausage, okra, Worcestershire sauce, file, paprika, honey and hot sauce. Cover and slowly simmer again for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, add vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and serve as is or over rice.

Other gumbos worth checking out:

Sweet Potato, Okra and Chick Pea Gumbo, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Beginner and Expert Gumbo, Yum Sugar
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Homesick Texan

And – you’re not going to believe who serves up a delicious VEGAN gumbo: DISNEYLAND!
No, I am NOT making this up! Three Cheers for Mickey!

— posted by Donna


  1. Celeste says

    The recipe looks great, and I do plan to try it. One small correction. Mardi Gras season starts on January 6 and ENDS on Mardi Gras Day!

    Celeste from Cajun Country

  2. Deb says

    I know this was from 2010, but what brand of Worcester Sauce and Andouille Sausage did you use that was Gluten Free?? Both do have gluten, normally.

  3. says

    Donna, this looks yummy! I want to try it, but my hubby does not like okra. Would it still be an acceptable gumbo without Okra? I just don’t know. . .

    By the way, I love the way you write! Your fun personality oozes out of your writing. :)

    • says

      Thanks so much – so happy that you want to try this recipe! I think an acceptable substitute for okra would be celery – it has a sturdy texture that can stand up to the simmering. You can also just make it okra-free! Enjoy!

  4. says

    Thanks Kimberly. Will put this on my “Cookbooks to Buy” list. I don’t have nearly enough cookbooks – only about 200 or so . . . I wonder if they have Cookbook-holics Anonymous?

  5. says

    Funnily enough, my newspaper had a recipe for schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) this morning! I’ve been wanting to make it but I haven’t gotten around to trying it. It is fabulous for roasting and I bet it would make a lovely roux. And once you make it, you can store it in the fridge for three months so you can use it here and there without having to use it all at once.

    By the way, I highly recommend a cookbook called “Good-Time Eatin’ in Cajun Country.” It’s a vegan Cajun cookbook with some really incredible recipes. I use it most often for the healthy, delicious “cheese” sauce (put some over steamed romanesco for lunch today, in fact). It’s a terrific cookbook whether you’re vegan or not!


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