Chef Isaac Toups is known for being bold–from his playful and welcoming demeanor to the spice he brings to his Cajun cooking. New Orleanians and visitors alike flock to his restaurants to get a taste of authentic Louisiana cuisine in a laid-back atmosphere.
Whether you're here in NOLA or not, you can still experience his one-of-a-kind cooking through this recipe for Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, with an additional recipe for cornbread on the side.
And to top it all off, Chef Isaac also provided a spotify playlist full of some of his favorite songs to cook to. So grab your ingredients, queue up the tunes, and get ready to impress your quarantine krewe with a comforting bowl of Cajun gumbo.
And if you like the flavors you find here, be sure to grab a copy of Isaac’s cookbook, Chasing the Gator.
Chef Isaac Toups’ Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 3 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 2 tsp ground black pepper, divided
- ½ cup grapeseed oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 2 ribs of celery, diced
- 10 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 (12-oz) bottle of amber-style beer
- 5 cups chicken stock
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 lb andouille sausage (or your favorite smoked sausage), cut into bite-sized pieces
- Sliced green onions
- Hot Sauce
- Cornbread (recipe to follow)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Season the chicken thighs with 2 teaspoons of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side up, and roast for 20 minutes, or until the skin is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. Don't Throw that fat away, it’s going in the gumbo later.
- In a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, make a dark roux, using the oil and flour, about 45minutes. Once the roux is the color of milk chocolate, add the trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery, and stir once every 5 seconds for about a minute until the vegetables begin to soften and caramelize. The roux is rocking hot, so these vegetables are going to cook really quickly. Don’t walk away! After a minute, add the garlic and bay leaves and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Deglaze the pot with the beer, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon until all the browned bits are released. Stir constantly until it returns to a simmer.
- Add the stock and continue stirring until it returns to a simmer. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper and the cayenne. Add the reserved chicken thighs (skin, bones, everything) and their fat and the sausage. Bring back to a bare simmer, being careful not to let it boil and not to let the roux scorch, reduce the heat to the lowest setting on your stove, and cover. Simmer for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, scraping the bottom each time. Your gumbo should begin to thicken, but not like gravy. If it starts getting too thick before the 3 hours are up and you have to hit it with a little water to thin it, do so.
- Do not skim that fat off the top.
- Serve with rice. I put the gumbo down in each bowl first and then put the rice on top. Garnish with sliced green onions. If you want to bump up the heat, add a little bit of hot sauce.
Chef Isaac’s Skillet Cornbread
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ TBSP baking powder
- ½ TBSP kosher salt
- 2 whole eggs, well beaten
- 1 stick butter melted, plus one tablespoon
- 5 oz whole milk
- 2 TBSP honey
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Mix all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl whisk eggs, milk, and honey together. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir vigorously for 5 seconds. Then add butter, except the last tablespoon, and stir for another 5 seconds. The mixture should just come together, do not over mix.
- Add the last tablespoon of butter to an 8-inch cast-iron pan and heat in the oven for 5 min. Remove pan from oven and swirl to coat. Add mixture to the pan and spread out evenly. Cook for 20 min at 350 or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
- Rest for 10 min. Cut into 8 portions and serve.