The Best Sausage To Use For A Milder Gumbo

gumbo - Lara Hata/Getty Images

Gumbo is often described as a melting pot of flavors and ingredients, and that's why we love the idea of getting creative with this velvety stew that is the official Louisiana state cuisine. Good Louisiana cooks will operate on a don't ask, don't tell basis when it comes to gumbo, so long as the basics are there. What you'll find in a good gumbo includes the holy trinity (onion, celery, and bell pepper), seafood, chicken, sausage, and a thickener such as a roux of flour and oil. The type of seafood varies, and vegetables such as okra and spices like filé powder can be included.

Traditionally, the sausage used in gumbo is andouille. This spicy sausage — brought to Louisiana by French immigrants and embraced by Cajuns — is made with pork, then smoked and precooked. It's delicious and has a lot of cayenne pepper. For a milder profile in your gumbo, kielbasa makes an amazing substitute without sacrificing flavor. Kielbasa is a Polish sausage that's also smoked and thoroughly cooked. Made usually with pork (but sometimes beef or venison), kielbasa has a strong herbal profile with the addition of marjoram and, like andouille, features garlic as a key ingredient. Because kielbasa is stuffed in a casing and then smoked for about three hours, the firmness of the sausage holds up just as well as andouille, especially during the slow cooking process involved with gumbo.

Read more: The Best Meat For Your Charcuterie Board Isn't One You'd Expect

Customize Your Gumbo With Kielbasa

kielbasa sausage
kielbasa sausage - Rudisill/Getty Images

Iterations of Cajun gumbo have included everything from turkey and rabbit, to squirrel. But today, popular versions of gumbo usually comprise chicken, seafood, and sausage, in some form. Since gumbo is a hodge-podge of prized ingredients as diverse as its cultural influences (French, African, Spanish, and Native American), tailoring it to your tastes can be a fun experiment. Many original recipes for gumbo contain okra and filé powder, two ingredients that aren't necessarily easy to find. Using kielbasa can also be friendlier to the home chef, since sourcing andouille may be harder than it sounds, and kielbasa is readily available in most grocery stores. Try starting with this sausage and seafood gumbo recipe, and swap out the andouille for kielbasa. The dried basil and bay leaves in this recipe will also add a strong, earthy flavor in place of filé powder.

Don't have all day to simmer gumbo on the stove? Use our crockpot chicken gumbo recipe with kielbasa instead of andouille, and substitute fresh chicken breasts for some rotisserie chicken in a pinch. Cut down on the cayenne for an even milder gumbo. Since the only thing you need to sautee is the holy trinity of peppers, onions, and celery, try throwing the kielbasa into the skillet as well. Because the sausage is precooked, it retains its firmness and can be cooked to caramelization in no time, creating a rich flavor and hearty texture that maintains its integrity in this slow-cooked gumbo.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.