Unyawn’s Smoked Chicken, Sausage, and Andouille

by Ross Bowen, Tastemaker in Residence

I love New Orleans!  I love the people, the culture, the weather (in winter), and especially the food! I am great friends with a jazz musician there, Jerry Embree, who plays the jazz brunch at Arnaud’s restaurant. (I recommend Shrimp Arnaud’s).   
In March 2008 a friend arranged for me to borrow cooking equipment from the Smokin’ Lipps BBQ team so that I could compete at the Hammond’s BBQ and Blues Fest contest. I packed up my rubs, sauces, and knives and flew down (yes they were searched). While there I met Ron Walker, better known by his Cajun name, Unyawn. Ron cooks on the Motley Que Crew BBQ team (with Guy Fieri), and later went on to win the World BBQ Championship at the Kansas City Royal Open. Unyawn was very open with help and gave me tips all weekend.  For instance, smoke your meats by temperature, not time.
We’ve stayed in touch since then and I saw him post about his Chicken and Sausage Gumbo on social media. I’ve always wanted to replicate what I eat in the Big Easy, so I asked him for help with his recipe. He gladly shared it with me and our Spirited Table® readers.
My wife and I prepared this a few weeks ago for a group of friends from the American Diabetes Association and the Alzheimer’s Association. It went over quite well. When cooking this, pay close attention to the preparation of the roux. As Unyawn says, it will get quite dark, like dark chocolate. Stir continuously to prevent burning, or be prepared to start over! 

This recipe is for 20 quarts so feel free to scale down to suit your party size.
6 large onions
2 large green bell peppers
1 bunch celery
4 bunches green onions
1 bunch parsley
2-3 heads garlic
3 large chickens
3 lbs. smoked sausage
2 lbs. andouille sausage
Salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper as required
2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups all purpose flour
long grain rice
french bread

Cut the hens in half and season with salt, granulated garlic and black pepper
Smoke the hens with pecan wood @ 200 until mahogany in color
De-bone chickens
Boil the smoked skin, bones and all vegetable trimmings in seasoned water for at least 2-3 hours (the longer the better, to produce a great smoke-flavored stock)
Strain stock and retain
Medium chop all seasonings except fine chop garlic and put aside
Heat equal parts oil and flour on medium-high to make roux.  Sift in the flour to avoid lumps.
Stir roux and brown to a dark chocolate color (a flat bottom wood-
spatula works best to keep most of the flour off the bottom of the pot).
Important tip
Keep stirring roux to keep the flour moving, it will burn very fast!  If you see any black specks or if it smells burnt, it is burned! Throw it away and start over. This roux will have a nutty aroma, so don’t be confused.  You want to brown your roux to a dark chocolate color, which will result in a dark, rich gumbo!
When the roux is cooked, move it off the heat and stir occasionally as it is still cooking.
Sauté all onions, celery and bell peppers down until clear, add to the roux and stir.
Sauté smoked sausage and andouille until slightly browned, add to roux and stir in thoroughly.
Add stock and simmer for two hours.
Add salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste, simmer 30 minutes and re-check seasonings.
Simmer until the stock comes to a thick (not too thin or watery) dark brown consistency.
Add the smoked de-boned chicken and continue on a low simmer.
Add the green onions and parsley and check for seasoning.  Adjust with cayenne as required.
Serve over hot white rice with french bread and butter