This Chicken & Sausage Gumbo Casserole recipe combines all the flavors of a traditional gumbo in an easy to prepare and even easier to port around casserole dish.
This recipe inspired my January 2019 inRegister column, Casseroles for Comfort. It came on the heels of saying goodbye to our beloved Stella. During that time, my neighborhood rallied around Brian and I like nothing I have ever seen.
There were endless deliveries of flowers, cards, and gifts (the Dog Heaven book will induce tears for hours but so incredibly kind). It seemed a little silly, given my Stella is a dog, but to Brian and I, she was so much more than that. And to our neighborhood, she was the mascot that would be no more.
Among the thoughtful gifts, one that stole my heart was the unexpected delivery of gumbo. Yes, gumbo. It’s something you’d do when someone’s family member had passed, but honestly, mourning Stella’s loss was entirely the same. This neighbor friend knew how impossible it would be to be near my kitchen without my sidekick beneath my feet….and delivered the most kind gift I could imagine.
If she hadn’t brought over the gumbo, I’m positive I wouldn’t have eaten that first night.
- 1 pound, boneless chicken thighs or breasts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1 (16 ounces) package vermicelli
- 1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
- 1 (13 ounces) can sliced mushrooms, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Place chicken along with the salt, garlic powder, pepper and creole seasoning in a large pot and cover with 6 cups of water. Cook on medium heat until chicken is tender. Set aside to cool in the broth it created before transferring the chicken to a cutting board to cut into bite-sized pieces. Do not discard the broth.
In a skillet, sauté bell pepper in onion in butter until soft. Set aside.
In the same large pot that you boiled the chicken (with the chicken removed), bring the broth to a boil; add vermicelli and cook until almost done. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven so do not overcook. Add the cheese to the vermicelli, stirring until melted. Add the onion mixture, tomatoes, Worcestershire, mushrooms and chicken. Combine well.
Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes.
Note: Okra is what makes this recipe gumbo and not jambalaya but if you have someone who doesn’t care for it, just omit it. I did!
And while it was incredibly delicious, I couldn’t help but wonder how to make it more portable. My poor neighbor had one hand full of gumbo, another with a bag of crackers, and yet another container of rice.
So my head swirled with ways to simplify how many containers were needed and how to make something as comforting as gumbo…convenient. I thought, what if you combined everything together in casserole form so that when the time comes, you just hand over the meal in a casserole dish?
And voila. The Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Casserole was born.
And just as I said in my article, rather than resolutions this year, I’ve instead headed into the New Year full of gusto, hope and specific intention set on sharing the gift of food and hospitality even more throughout the year. Bring on the casseroles!