According to Chef Isaac Toups, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, “Is Gumbo 101: the first gumbo you learn in the Cajun kitchen. It’s surely the most popular gumbo on the planet. No matter how much you might be tempted to, do not skim the little oil slick of chicken fat off the top of your gumbo. Taste that! That’s what rice is for, to soak all that flavor up. My gumbo comes out rich, and God, it’s delicious.”As Hurricane season rolled through and seemed to keep making a B-line towards Louisiana, one name that I kept seeing on social media – and trying to do everything he can to help the community – was Chef Isaac Toups.
Hurricane Zeta blew through New Orleans almost head-on as one of the strongest storms to ever directly hit the city. The Category 2 storm caused massive damage and power outages throughout large areas of the southern United States as it made its way across and back out into the Atlantic Ocean.
However, there were patches of those who still had power in New Orleans right after the storm. Toups went onto social media to announce, not only did he have power, but he also had food for those that were in need and that he would be at his restaurant, Toups Meatery until he ran out.
This wasn’t the first time this year that Chef Toups jumped in to help his community. At the beginning of the COVID crisis, as the restaurant industry was shut down, he stepped up and offered gumbo to those that needed it. And then he did it again for Thanksgiving 2020.
That’s something that you don’t forget about – you shouldn’t forget about.
Chef Isaac Toups, who was a finalist for James Beard “Best Chef: South” and Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” season 13 “Fan Favorite,” has always been generous with his time. In the past, he chatted with me for my How Do You Red Bean? series (you can click here for that interview), and I have been offered multiple recipes from him to share here (like his Roasted Oyster recipe). Below is his recipe for the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.
He has been a busy man. In the past year, he has released an award-winning cookbook and came out with an array of spices and hot sauces. If you want to learn more about his line of assorted Cajun spices and the cookbook, I’ll share the info after the recipe.
After you make Chef Isaac Toups’ Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, take a picture of it and tag me and him on it. I’m sure he’d love to see it. If you’re not apart of my Red Beans and Eric Community Page on Facebook, here is how you can join us. And I invite you to share your favorite recipes and photos of food that you made.
Chef Isaac Toups Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- 4 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
- 2 teaspoons 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 celery diced 10 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 12-ounce bottle amber-style beer
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon Louisiana Liquid Snake Hot Sauce
- 1 lb andouille sausage (or your favorite smoked sausage), cut into bite-size pieces (½-inch half-moons)
- Everyday Rice for serving
- Sliced green onions for garnish
- 1 teaspoon Smokey Green Hot Sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Season the chicken thighs with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of 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 (page 10), using the oil and flour, for about 45 minutes. 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 another dash of Louisiana Liquid Snake.
GIFT IDEAS FOR A FOODIE
Chef Isaac Toups is known for his passion for Cajun flavors and how to transform the unique comfort style food into something new and modern. He was able to bottle up some of that bold flavor into a collection of spices and sauces so you can recreate some of his restaurant dishes at home.
It was announced earlier that Toups had teamed up with Spiceology to create a new collection of spices that could bring the Cajun heat to your kitchen. Each of the seasoning blends offers a unique flavor profile that is meant to be used for specific cooking.
Heatwave is perfect for burgers and features a salt and pepper blend that will add the right amount of heat.
Fryclone is a combination of parmesan, vinegar, horseradish, and green chiles.
Thunderdust is the modern take on Cajun seasoning. It features the flavors of the Cajun trinity – onions, bell peppers, celery – and also with white pepper and garlic.
Louisiana Lightning is your seafood seasoning that will elevate your shrimps, crabs, crawfish, and more. It’s a salty and spicy blend of mustard, white pepper, celery salt, garlic, and cayenne pepper.
You can order his spices online at Spiceology at https://spiceology.com/collaborations/isaac-toups/.
If you’re looking for a new hot sauce, why not try one of Toups?
I love going somewhere and finding a unique and new bottle of a Louisiana style sauce. On our trips back, I usually stock up on different brands of sauces and spices that you can’t find anywhere else. If you’re in New Orleans or headed there, you can pick these up at Toups Meatery.
Smokey Green is a big and bold Verde hot sauce with a blend of jalapenos, poblanos, garlic, smoked paprika, and dashi. If you don’t know what dashi is, it’s a freeze-dried Asian fish stock that adds natural umami to the sauce.
Louisiana Liquid Snake is the hot hot sauce. Red in color. Big in flavor. You’ll find this bottle with red wine vinegar, lots of garlic, salt, sugar, and cayenne pepper. This has some bite!
Toups says, “A little bit goes a long way. This sauce packs some serious heat and is not for the faint of heart.” Add to collard greens and dirty rice for an added kick.
Toups Meatery is located at 845 North Carrollton Ave in New Orleans. For more information, you can call them at (504)252-4999 or online at www.toupsmeatery.com. You can find the current hours of operation there, the menu, along with checking the online store. He offers gift packages and sometimes you can get a signed copy of his cookbook.
As for his cookbook, when Chasing the Gator – Isaac Toups & the New Cajun Cooking (Little, Brown, and Company) was released at the end of 2018, the Cajun memoir was named one of the best cookbooks of the year by both The New York Times and Southern Living.
Chasing the Gator takes readers on a fun-filled journey through Cajun Country with salty stories, tall tales, and more than 100 recipes including how to make a damn fine gumbo, boudin, dirty rice, cochon de lait, and his signature double-cut pork chop and the infamous Toups Burger. This is a book full of attitude and flavor for fans of Action Bronson, Anthony Bourdain, and Paul Prudhomme.
Chasing the Gator shows how–and what it means–to cook Cajun food today. The book is available for purchase at local booksellers and online retailers including Amazon, as well as at Toups Meatery.
If you own a copy of Chasing the Gator or have tried any of the spices and hot sauces, let us know what you think about them in the comments below.
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Keep the red beans cookin’!
Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.
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