January 04, 2022
By Jack Hennessy
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Gumbo is a spicy stew that hails from Louisiana and is guaranteed to stick to your ribs and keep you warm during those long, cold sits in the blind. This recipe is a wild game variation of a gumbo made famous in the Pacific Northwest by The Elk Public House in Spokane, Washington, where I worked as a line cook from 2011-2015. There, I made this stew approximately once a week and it was one of my favorite things to put together.
The hardest part with this recipe is devoting the time and attention to making certain your roux or your stew—once assembled—doesn’t burn. I’ve made this recipe probably at least a couple hundred times. This version will take me about 3 hours from start to finish, but it’s so worth it.
You can use any waterfowl here though I do recommend legs, specifically mallards or Canada geese (I used Canada geese legs). I also hope you have some skin-on legs because the rendered fat from waterfowl, especially in this dish, is liquid gold.
What!? You skin all your waterfowl? Waterfowlers who skin their birds are going against the natural order of the universe. You can of course add other wild game to this (I added smoked, shredded venison), but waterfowl should be the base meat. Don’t exclude any spices. Order the spice on Amazon if you can’t find it at your grocer (likely will have to do for the file, pronounced fee-lay).
Gumbo also tastes way better after sitting in the fridge for a day or two, so consider making a day or two before heading out and it’ll definitely taste even better once all flavors have had time to mingle.
Lastly, on the rice: I forgot gumbo is served with rice until my wife reminded me. I went with plain ol’ jasmine, but you can do Uncle Ben’s wild rice mix, if you like. It’s dealer’s choice when it comes to rice.
How to Make Duck Blind Gumbo
Yield: 6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours
- 2-1/4 pounds wild fowl legs, or a combo of legs and other game
- 1/4 stalk celery, sliced
- 2 yellow onions, rough diced
- 2 on-the-vine tomatoes, diced
- 1 red bell peppers, diced
- 2 poblano peppers, diced
- 3 Anaheim peppers, sliced
- 8 cups chicken stock (mixed use)
- 1-3/4 cups tomato juice
- 3/4 cup clam juice
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1-1/3 cups cold water
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sunflower oil*Add the following spices once browned;
- 1 tablespoons gumbo file (powdered sassafras leaves)
- 1 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoons dry ground thyme
- 1 tablespoons oregano
- 1 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoons black pepper
- 1 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic*For extra spice (optional);
- 1 tablespoons chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon cayenne
- Dice onions, bell pepper, poblanos and tomatoes into medium-sized pieces and add to large pot.
- Slice Anaheim peppers and celery and add to pot.
- Lightly salt and pepper all.
- Cover with lid, cook on low atop stove, stirring frequently, until soft.
- To cook fowl legs, lightly salt and pepper all sides and add to cold cast-iron skillet.
- Turn heat to medium and sear both sides of legs adequately.
- Add 1 cup tomato juice and 4 cups chicken stock to skillet and simmer legs.
- After 1 hour simmering in skillet, liquids will have reduced to likely half a cup (perhaps 1 cup at most).
- Add liquids and fowl legs to pot with vegetables and cover with vegetables.
- Continue to simmer in with vegetables for another hour.
- To make roux, thoroughly mix flour and oil in a large pot.
- Heat on low atop stove, stirring often (anywhere from every 7 to 15 minutes).
- Monitor roux closely, especially at first, so no parts burn. Any black bits will ruin entire batch, as a bitter taste will permeate gumbo.
- Meanwhile, heat liquids on low until temperature reaches 140 to 160 degrees.
- Cook and stir roux for at least half hour, until mixture is dark brown (almost color of wet sand).
- When finished (when color is right), remove pot from burner and add spices, stir for another 5 minutes.
- Add heated liquids, stir until roux activates and thickens.
- Add thickened liquids to large pot with vegetables.
- Allow to barely simmer for half hour, stirring often.
- When ready to serve, remove fowl legs from gumbo. If meat doesn’t fall off the bone, you may need to cut off and add back to gumbo. Discard bones.
- Add any other wild game you want. I added about 6 ounces of smoked venison, pulled from a front quarter I smoked and braised in beer.
- To make rice, you can either choose Uncle Ben’s or roll with either 1 cup jasmine or white rice with 1-1/3 cups of cold water.
- Put in small saucepan and cover, bringing to a boil, then turn to low until all water is absorbed.
- To serve, add a bit of rice to bottom of bowl and pour on the gumbo.
Any questions or comments, please reach out on Instagram @WildGameJack