Let’s Talk Gumbo – With a Cowboy Twist

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Did you know that, in addition to this being Columbus Day, it is also National Gumbo Day? And since I was born and raised in south Louisiana , gumbo is one of my favorite dishes – especially this time of year when nothing hits the spot like a nice hearty dish of soup or stew – or gumbo!.  So today, I thought I’d pull out a recipe I shared here over 10 years ago and present it again.

Gumbo has, of course, been a staple of south Louisiana cuisine for nearly 300 years and there are as many variations on it as there are cooks. While I learned from my mother who learned from hers, and my daughters are now learning from me, you can sample gumbos from each of us and you’ll discover no two taste the same. All true gumbo cooks put their own spin on their dish.

Gumbo is a true multi-cultural dish. While there are debates over its origins, there is no doubt that it contains strong influences from the French, African, Acadian and Native American cultures as well as lesser influences for the Spanish, Italian and even Germans.

There are two theories as to where the dish got its name. The most popular theory is that it originated from the West African word for okra, ki ngombo.  The other theory is that it comes from the Choctaw word for sassafras, which is kombo. (filé powder, a common gumbo ingredient, is ground sassafras).

Gumbos start with a roux, a mixture of flour and oil employed by French cooks as early as the 14th century.  Much of the thickness, color, and texture comes from the use of this flour and oil mixture.  As for the rest, some cooks prefer to thicken with okra, some with filé.

I actually love to cook (it’s the cleaning up after part I hate!).  I also like to experiment in the kitchen.  I call it being creative.  My less generous friends call it my inability to let well enough alone. <g>    I especially like dishes that I can make a big batch of and freeze portions of for later use.  The recipe below is one such.

For this version of gumbo, I’ve added a few extra elements to give it a little western twist (not entirely my idea – I saw the concept in a magazine and then added my own spin to it).  As with any gumbo you can just use whatever meats you have on hand (For instance, it’s a great way to use leftover turkey from those upcoming holiday meals!)

So without further ado, here is my take on a Cowboy Gumbo 


  • 1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can (14-15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (6-8 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 lb sliced okra (sautéed with ½ teaspoon vinegar until ‘slime’ is gone)
  • 4 lbs meat – you can get away with less but I like to be generous with the protein. Meats that work well in this gumbo are sausage (I like andouille sausage), deboned chicken or turkey, pork, or game meats. You can use any one of these or a combination of two or more
  • Tobasco sauce or liquid crab boil to taste (optional)



  • Use flour and oil or butter to make a roux. 
    Do this by combining them in a heavy saucepan and cooking over a low heat,  stirring constantly until the mixtures is a medium brown color (about 10-15 minutes).
  • Add garlic, onions, green onions, celery and bell peppers.  Cook until tender
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes
  • Add okra.  Return to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer for another twenty minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves, skim excess oil, and serve over rice.

As you can probably guess, this makes a very large batch.  Leftovers (if there are any!) can be frozen for later consumption.

So how about you? Do you like gumbo or do you have another favorite hearty dish for fall and winter?

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

41 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Gumbo – With a Cowboy Twist”

  1. Sounds yummy. I grew up on stews, potato soup. With the stew, both parents liked making it, so you never knew what all was going in it. My dad said everything is up for consideration except the kitchen sink, because someone has to clean up the mess.

  2. I love gumbo, now I’m hungry. Thanks for this awesome recipe.
    Here’s my Mom’s Cornbread Dressing.
    6 cups of Cornmeal= 3 batches of cornbread.

    6 biscuits all mashed up in large roaster
    1 tsp Natures Seasoning
    Cover dressing real lightly w/1 tsp poultry seasoning
    Pepper=fat tsp.
    Sage=2 tsp. (don’t add any more, this is perfect amount)
    Wash, clean, & chop a package of celery in 1/2 pieces and 1 large onion and add to dressing
    Then mix cornmeal dressing really good.
    Chicken broth- 2cans

    Beat eggs~ 3 big eggs & pour into dressing.
    More chicken broth- 2 cans
    1shredded red apple (right before cooking)
    1 more can of chicken broth
    Put turkey broth from cooked turkey in dressing until VERY MOIST (SOUPY)
    3 scrambled (not cooked) eggs pour in dressing and mix all again 1 more
    COOK 350 covered for 30 minutes and then uncover and bake another 30

    ENJOY, it will be the best dressing you ever tasted. My Mom is known in TX for her superb Dressing. She’s always elected to make & bring the dressing!!!!!!

  3. A Michigander, like Veda, I grew up on stew. Yummy! But I LOVE cajun cooking! It’s intimidating though…so I just stick to red beans and rice, and leave the gumbo to you!

    • Red beans and rice is another fave, as are navy beans and rice. Even better if you add sausage and Cajun seasonings to the red beans and ham and Tabasco to the navy beans 🙂

  4. I have actually never had gumbo, but it sounds interesting. My favorite hearty dish would be chili. I like to cook it in the cooler months.

  5. I am not sure I have ever had gumbo. My favorite thing to cook during the cooler months is chili or home made chicken noodle soup. My husband is awful picky when it comes to food. he doesn’t want anything different. My son will try something different but hubby no. He complains when I fix myself cabbage of kale greens. My sister makes some really good red beans and rice but hubby want even try it.

  6. Good morning Winnie! I love gumbo! I don’t eat it often but now I’m thinking I will this Fall or Winter. I’ve always been told that the trick to the best gumbo is in the roux and that the darker the better. How do you feel about that? I see you said a medium Brown color. I sure do not want to ruin a big pot of gumbo. This takes me back to my childhood and canned soup. I was never a fan of canned soups sold at stores but what my mom could get by with serving me was Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo. Another funny memory I have was making gumbo for the first time after getting married. I guess I ventured away from the recipe and struck out on my own to my failure. I obviously used a recipe that called for putting the rice in the gumbo and I did something wrong because I had rice for days and my gumbo turned out more like Jambalaya. It taste good but wasn’t what I set out to make and I didn’t plan on having enough to feed an army when there was only two of us. lol I think I’ll do chicken, sausage and shrimp when I do mine! Yummy now I’m hungry! I need to work on the desliming of the okra because I don’t really get that part. Can you tell me more? How long, what should it look like?

    The Fall/Winter dish I cook the most is Hamburger Soup because my youngest loves it. A simple soup containing browned ground beef sauteed with onions, canned corn, canned tomatoes, green chilies, lots of canned sliced potatoes (her fav part), light red kidney and sometimes black beans and beef broth. Seasoned with bay leaves, salt, pepper and my homemade taco seasoning. (I don’t always use the taco seasoning. My daughter likes to eat it with tostadas. (Not tortilla chips, the store bought tostadas because they are a hearty corn option) I grew up having it with cornbread or if we had the non-taco seasoned version we even ate it with saltines.

    My favorite Fall/Winter meal is Caldo de Rez. (Mexican beef soup) It is Roast (or beef shank) onions, potatoes, carrots, beef, cabbage, zuchinni (large Chunky slices, corn on the cob (cut into about an inch and half sections). Seasoned with salt, black pepper and Bayless leaves) We serve the soup with Spanish rice (you add a scoop to you bowl of soup) lime wedges, pick de gallo and lots of cilantro. We eat it with corn tortillas. Now I’m really hungry. An authentic caldo de rea would use chayote (a member of the gourd family) instead of Zuchinni but I learned from all my Mexican side of the family to use zuchinni instead.

    Stay safe in these uncertain times! Happy Fall!

    • Oh, you made my mouth water with you description of these dishes! And LOL on cooking the rice WITH the gumbo, I’ve never heard of doing that before, but I’ll bet it makes for a great jambalaya.

      As for the roux, like gumbo, it can vary from cook to cook. I like to cook mine until it is about the color of a copper penny. My grandmother always made hers much darker.

      And for a shortcut, sometimes when I don’t have time to stand at the stove and cook a roux from scratch, I’ll use a store bought roux mix – I like Tony Chacere’s mix but there are several good ones out there. Not as good as a homemade roux, but just about…

  7. Being from Minnesota, I have fall and winter favorites such as chicken wild rice soup and chilli. I have never eaten gumbo, although I have watched Bobby Flay make it a time or two. Thanks for the recipe. And all the recipes shared today. So fun. Thanks Winnie!

  8. I like Gumbo, Thank you for sharing your delicious sounding recipe. I love Split Pea soup, we eat it on cold days. I also love chicken or beef soups. Soups are a very comfort dish during the winter. Have a Great week and stay safe.

  9. Hi, Winnie. I have never had Gumbo, and your Cowboy Gumbo sounds dee-licious! I’ll have to try it. I love the ingredients.

    We Marylanders love our steamed crabs, crab soup, anything crab! Since the holidays are near, here’s a recipe I like to serve, especially on Christmas Eve:

    Crab & Shrimp Casserole

    1 lb crab meat
    1 lb shrimp, steamed in Old Bay and peeled
    1 cup mayonnaise
    1/2 cup celery, chopped
    1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    2 cups seasoned croutons
    Buttered crumbs

    Mix in baking dish, top with buttered crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes. VERY EASY. Enjoy!

    • Oh wow – I am a BIG fan of crab. My favorite way to have them is in a Cajun crab boil. But this sounds absolutely fantabulous!! I will definitely been trying it soon

  10. Winnie, Thanks for the recipe. I made it for supper tonight. The okra in my fridge had gone bad, so that was missing. I had andouille sausage and left over roasted chicken. It was a bit too tomatoey due to the lack of okra, but it was good. I served it with cornbread. Will freeze the rest and when I have okra, will fix it. Too bad we already ripped the okra out of the garden. The plants were 7 feet tall and still growing, too tall to pick.
    When the weather gets colder, I fix a lot of stews, soups, and chili. Rolls, homemade bread, cornbread, and biscuits will be made to accompany them. I do enjoy gumbo and fix a full Louisiana recipe meal for the family around Mardi Gras.
    Thanks for tonight’s dinner idea. Stay safe and healthy.

    • Oh wow, you’re quick!! And how cool that you already had (almost) all the ingredients on hand – you are one prepared cook.

      FYI – If you find the tomato flavor too strong, you can always cut back on the tomato paste. I wouldn’t adjust the diced tomatoes though unless you REALLY dislike tomatoes.

      And my hubby also prefers his gumbo with cornbread or crackers but I’m a rice girl through and through 🙂

      • I love rice. We usually serve our chili over rice and I had considered fixing some to go with the gumbo. I don’t mind the tomato taste, it was just a bit too concentrated. I might use a small can of tomato sauce and forget the paste next time. I was just short on the other ingredients which did make a difference.. Over rice, it would have been fine.

      • I’ve never tried chili with rice but thinking about it I can see how that could be good. I’ll have to try it next time I cook up a pot of chili. Thanks for the tip!

  11. I am going to try yours, Winnie! I can’t remember a gumbo recipe I haven’t liked, but then, I don’t mind doctoring as I go to make sure the taste suits me, no matter where the recipe began. I haven’t had a crawfish gumbo in forever, but I still do crab and shrimp along with andouille most of the time. And I agree… this is the fun time of year for recipes like this!

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