Gumbo

Ingredients

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  • 1 roasting hen (3 to 4 pounds), cut into frying pieces
  • Salt and cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 10 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 pound andouille, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pint freshly shucked oysters with the liquor

Preparation

Season the hen generously with salt and cayenne pepper.

Combine the oil and flour in a large, heavy pot or Dutch
oven over medium heat. Stirring slowly and constantly, make a roux the
color of chocolate. (When I attempted to make my first roux years ago, I
remember calling Papa and asking him how long it would take, and he
told me "the time it takes to drink two beers." Not being a beer
drinker, I had to come up with my own system. I now put on two record
albums, and when they have played out my roux is usually just about
right.)

Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery, and cook, stirring, until they are soft, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the chicken broth. (I usually warm it up in a pot
just a bit before adding it to the roux mixture.) Stir to blend, and
bring to a gentle boil.

Add the chicken. (There are those who will tell you to
brown the chicken first, but I put it in raw.) Add the bay leaves and
thyme, and cook at a gentle boil for 1 hour.

Add the andouille and cook, stirring occasionally, until
the chicken is very tender, an hour to an hour and a half longer.

A few minutes before serving, add the oysters and simmer
just until the oysters curl, about three minutes. Adjust seasoning to
taste. (If the gumbo becomes too thick during cooking, simply add more
chicken broth or water.)