Maxine’s Chicken Gumbo goes over rice, gets served with classic potato salad

Melissa M. Martin
Mosquito Supper Club
In her cookbook "Mosquito Supper Club," chef Melissa M. Martin includes the recipes she grew up with, like chicken gumbo. (Courtesy Artisan Books)

Melissa M. Martin wrote the cookbook “Mosquito Supper Club” to document Chauvin, Louisiana, the Cajun village where she grew up. Chauvin has been devastated by rising seas and coastal land loss. Hurricane Ida caused more damage, further imperiling Martin’s hometown.

The International Association of Culinary Professionals recently named “Mosquito Supper Club” as both the American cookbook of the year and the overall cookbook of the year.

Preserving Cajun roots:Prize-winning 'Mosquito Supper Club' cookbook honors a Cajun village in peril

About the recipe

This is the chicken gumbo I grew up with. My mom made it every week. It’s still the leftovers I look for in her fridge when I go home to visit. It’s a thin gumbo, made without roux, but it’s brothy and rich, with simple parsley and green onions cutting the layered flavors of the onions and poultry.

Excerpted from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019.

Serves: 6 to 8

Total time: 3 hours

Ingredients

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 pounds (1.35 kg) yellow onions, finely diced

1 (5-pound/2.3 kg) good-quality whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed

3 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed 

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper, plus more as needed

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons hot sauce, preferably Original Louisiana Hot Sauce, plus more as needed

½ cup (55 g) finely diced celery

¼ cup (35 g) finely diced green bell pepper

3 bay leaves 

12½ cups (3 L) chicken stock or water

Cooked rice, for serving

¼ cup (13 g) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

¼ cup (20 g) finely chopped green onions, for garnish

Potato Salad (see below), for serving

Filé powder, for serving

Instructions

Warm a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat for 3 minutes, then add the oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Put the chicken in a large bowl and season with the salt, black pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce. Set aside to marinate at room temperature while the vegetables cook.

Add the celery, bell pepper, and bay leaves to the onions and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Cover and let the vegetables smother together until the celery and bell pepper are very soft, with no bite remaining, about 20 minutes.

Move all the vegetables to one side of the pot and place the chicken pieces on the bottom of the pot. Rearrange the vegetables so they cover the chicken. Raise the heat to medium and brown the chicken for 8 minutes, then flip the chicken onto the other side to cook for another 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and let everything smother together for 20 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the chicken is falling off the bone, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Keep the heat low so you don’t boil off all the liquid; if the gumbo looks dry, just add some more stock.

Turn off the heat and let the gumbo sit, uncovered, for 1 hour before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning—I usually add a lot of hot sauce at the end because I like my gumbo to have a vinegary flavor.

Serve the gumbo over rice, garnished with the parsley and green onions, with potato salad alongside. Pass the filé at the table for everyone to add as they like.

Potato Salad

Here is the rule for the potato salad I grew up eating: There should be no relish or any other green things in the mix. Although I’ve never met a potato salad I didn’t like, I stand by this rule. This is a quick and easy potato salad to serve with gumbo. Whether you put your potato salad in your gumbo or eat it on the side is a matter of preference. It doesn’t mean you’re from Baton Rouge or any other place. Just like some folks like their gravy on their mashed potatoes and others prefer it on their meat and still others like it on both, it’s simply about eating it the way you like.

Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients

4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

1 pound (455 g) red potatoes (about 8), scrubbed

6 large eggs

1 cup (240 ml) homemade mayonnaise (see below)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon hot sauce, preferably Original Louisiana Hot Sauce, plus more as needed

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Pinch of cayenne pepper, plus more as needed

Instructions

In a medium pot, bring 4 quarts (4 L) water to a boil over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Add the potatoes and boil until they are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in another medium pot, bring 2 quarts (2 L) water to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, carefully lower in the eggs and boil for 8 minutes. Drain the eggs and rinse under cold water or transfer to a bowl filled with ice and water until the eggs are cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and cut them in half, separating the yolks and whites.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and hot sauce until it is smooth. Use your hands to break apart the potatoes and add the pieces to the bowl. Zest the egg yolks into the bowl using a Microplane, then break the egg whites into small pieces with your hands and put them in the bowl, too (you could also use a fork to mash them, if you’d rather).

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and the cayenne. Use a fork to mash all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is so easy to make, everyone should try it — especially anyone who likes mayonnaise as much as my dad. He eats fried seafood, french fries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and so many other things with it.

Be sure to let your egg come to room temperature before you make this recipe to ensure that the mayonnaise doesn’t break.

Makes: 2 cups

Ingredients

1 large egg, at room temperature

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Juice of ½ lemon

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1½ cups (360 ml) canola oil

Instructions

Put the egg in a food processor and season with the salt, black pepper, lemon juice, and cayenne. With the food processor running, very slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture has the consistency of mayonnaise. (You may think, as you’re adding the oil, that using more will make it thinner, but this is not the case—the oil emulsifies with the egg, and as you add more, the mayonnaise thickens.) Transfer the mayonnaise to a container or jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.