Serve a Southern-style dinner with spicy gumbo and sweet cornbread

Chef Isaac Toups is swinging by the TODAY kitchen to share a few of his favorite traditional Southern recipes.

Make a delicious Southern-style dinner of spicy gumbo and sweet cornbread

    He shows us how to make hearty gumbo with chicken and sausage paired with sweet cornbread.

    Nathan Congleton / TODAY

    Cook time: 3 hours

    Prep time: 15 minutes

    Servings: 4-6

    I love this recipe because pretty much all grocery stores stock sausage and chicken. So pretty much, everyone can make this simple yet awesome Cajun stew.

    Technique tip: Get the oil hot for the roux before you add flour to quicken the browning process. The roux should be dark brown.

    Swap option: Many types of sausage can be substituted, although smoked sausages are best. Also many types of braising meats can replace or accompany chicken.

    Ingredients

      • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
      • Kosher salt, to taste
      • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
      • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil, plus 1 tablespoon
      • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
      • 6 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 stalks celery, diced
      • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
      • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
      • 1 small yellow onion, diced
      • 8 ounces amber-style beer
      • 4 cups chicken stock
      • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
      • 4 bay leaves
      • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch coins
      • Cayenne pepper, to taste
      • Cooked white rice, for serving
      • Sliced scallions, for serving

    Preparation

    1. Preheat broiler to medium-high heat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and rub with one tablespoon of grapeseed oil. Place the seasoned chicken on the prepared baking sheet and broil until slightly charred and golden, about 10 minutes, and set aside.

    3. Heat a thick bottomed 4-quart Dutch oven over medium. Add the remaining oil and flour and, using a whisk, stir constantly, taking care not to allow any to splash and burn you, until the roux has turned dark brown (the color of a bar of Hershey's chocolate is about right), about 25 minutes.

    4. Add the garlic, celery, jalapeño, bell pepper and onion and cook for one minute. Add the beer to deglaze, then add the stock, thyme, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Stir slowly and continuously until the gumbo is back to a simmer, then add the chicken thighs and the sausage. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours. Gumbo should thick but not like gravy. Season with cayenne and serve with cooked rice. Top with scallions and enjoy!

    Related video

    Make a delicious Southern-style dinner of spicy gumbo and sweet cornbread

    I love this recipe because pretty much all grocery stores stock sausage and chicken. So pretty much, everyone can make this simple yet awesome Cajun stew.

    Denny Culbert / Isaac Toups

    Servings: 8

    This cornbread has sugar in it — which is a polarizing topic in the cornbread community. Some prefer a more savory, but I think adding sugar makes this naturally sweet side even better.

    Tip technique: Don't over-mix the batter. It's best to leave it a little lumpy than to overwork it.

    Swap options: Different sugars work well with cornbread. You can swap honey for maple syrup or white sugar for dark.

    Ingredients

      • 1 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1 cup cornmeal
      • 1/2 cup sugar
      • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
      • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
      • 2 eggs, well beaten
      • 2/3 cup whole milk
      • 2 tablespoons honey
      • 1 stick butter, melted, plus one tablespoon

    Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt together in medium mixing bowl until fully incorporated.

    2. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk and honey together.

    3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir vigorously for 5 seconds. Add the stick of melted butter and stir another 5 seconds. Mixture should just come together, do not over mix.

    4. Add the last tablespoon of butter to a baking pan and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and swirl to coat. Add the cornbread mixture to pan and spread out evenly. Cook for 20 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

    5. Let rest for 10 minutes, cut into 8 portions and serve.

    Related video

    Make a delicious Southern-style dinner of spicy gumbo and sweet cornbread

    This cornbread has sugar in it — which is a polarizing topic in the cornbread community. Some prefer a more savory, but I think adding sugar makes this naturally sweet side even better.

    If you like those easy Southern recipes, you should also try these:

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