For Chicago-born chef Adrienne Cheatham's family, gumbo was a holiday fixture—they'd make several batches between Thanksgiving and Christmas, stashing them in a snow bank (a.k.a. nature's refrigerator) between meals.


Credit: Jenny Huang

Recipe Summary test

45 mins
1 hr 30 mins
Serves 8 to 10

In fact, when Cheatham met her New Orleans–born husband, Stephen, she bragged about her mom's Acadian-style gumbo, which is rich with seafood, chicken, and sausage (but omits the okra common to the Creole version). Cheatham, who lives in Harlem, N.Y., will share a similar dish in her next cookbook, SundayBest (out in March), honoring the breadth and beauty of Southern and soul food.

This article originally appeared in our Holiday 2021 issue. Get the magazine here.


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • In a large heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt 1 cup duck fat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, until the roux is dark brown, 10 to 15 minutes. (Be patient and don't be scared: The roux is ready when it is pecan-colored.)

  • Add the celery, onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Stir to thoroughly mix into the roux; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 10 minutes. Gradually stir in the stock, dissolving the roux. Add 2 quarts of water, increase the heat to medium, and bring to a boil.

  • Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season lightly on both sides. Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add the remaining 2 tbsp. duck fat. Add the chicken to the skillet, skin-side down and cook until the skin is deeply browned, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, until lightly browned. Transfer chicken to the pot, reserving the skillet.

  • Add the sausage to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the pot. Add 1 cup of water to the skillet and, with a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits, then pour the liquid from the skillet into the pot.

  • If using the crab knuckles, add to the pot along with the bay leaves and a few pinches of salt. Return the gumbo to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Stir in the Creole seasoning, gumbo filé, and Worcestershire.

  • Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove chicken thighs from the pot and transfer to a large bowl. Cool slightly, then pull the meat from the bones, tearing into bite-size pieces; discard the bones and skin and return the meat to the pot. Remove the crab knuckles. Cool slightly, then pick the meat from the shells; discard shells and return the crabmeat to the pot. (If using picked crabmeat, add it now.) Continue simmering until the gumbo is thick enough to coat a spoon, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the shrimp, simmering until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Taste and season.

  • To serve, add a scoop of rice to each bowl and top with a ladleful of gumbo; garnish with sliced scallions and Tabasco.


Filé powder (made from pulverized sassafras leaves) is integral to this recipe. It's readily available online.