Thursday, February 28, 2013

Slow cooker chicken sausage and shrimp gumbo

I love learning what tasks other people consider "easy."  And, once I've done that same task myself, I also enjoy assessing how easy I'd consider their version of easy.

For example -- ladies out there, I'm especially talking to you -- French braiding hair.  Few skills elude me quite like that one.  I can't French braid a friend's hair, much less dream of doing it to my own locks.  I've tried.  And tried.  And tried some more with no success whatsoever.

I've tried with dry curly hair, wet hair, wavy brushed hair, and three day old unwashed hair.  I've turned three strands of hair into two and knotted my hair in multiple places, but I've never created a  decent looking French braid.

The genuine rage that I've felt attempting to do so can be compared to little else, possibly only Matt's frustration with the "recalculating" function on our Garmin.  So, whenever a girl with her hair styled in a smooth and symmetrical braid chirps, "Oh, it's so easy.  You can totally do it!" I want to shout, "IT IS NOT EASY!"

Ladies (and gentlemen), break out your Crock Pot and get ready for a recipe that's so easy, you'll forget you ever wanted to French braid your hair and be content with a classic ponytail the rest of your life.

Slow cooker chicken sausage and shrimp gumbo!

It's so easy.  Just in case you're wary of my definition of easy, check this out: it's so easy you can even prepare it with broken coccyx.

(That's doctor speak for tailbone.  It's just more fun to say.  And a little dirty sounding, but it's allowed because many medical professionals said it repeatedly without as much as a smirk or giggle.)

The night before expecting an apartment full of friends to celebrate the Academy Awards (more on that soon!), I slipped and fell and broke my puny little tailbone.  It wasn't fun.

What was fun, though, was having a main dish planned that took about 5 minutes of active prep and 8 hours of sitting on a doughnut pillow watching pre-show coverage a.k.a. "inactive cooking time."  Major props to my cohostess, Julie, for picking such an awesome and fuss-free recipe!  If you have a knife, a cutting board, and basic chopping skills, this recipe is for you.

Not only is this gumbo a cinch to make, it's even easier to love and devour.  What starts with the holy trinity of cajun cooking -- that's equal amounts of bell peppers, celery, and onions -- is punched up with tomatoes, okra, smoky chicken sausage, tender shrimp, and spices a plenty.

The smell was so intoxicating that I snuck a bowl for myself early before everyone arrived.  My justification was that I'd be doing hostess duties and might not have time to dig into a bowl o' gumbo.  Deeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious, y'all!

It's the ultimate in comfort food and so easy to make.  Not French braid easy, but broken tailbone easy.  There's a big difference, friends.  See for yourself!  Minus the broken bones of course.

One year ago: Pineapple and shrimp skewers
Two years ago: Black and white cookies

Slow Cooker Chicken Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo
(adapted slightly from Hungry Girl's recipe)
-serves 8-10

A few notes: Any kind of sausage will do.  Also, feel free to use 8 ounces of boneless skinless chicken or turkey breast, cut into small pieces, in place of the shrimp.  Finally, you can make this as mild or spicy as you like.  When in doubt, start small and add more cayenne or red pepper flakes to taste.  P.S. Leftovers are amazing!

8 ounces shrimp, raw or cooked, tails removed
12 ounces (about 4 links) chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with chilis
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups frozen okra
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (or 1/8 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes)

Combine all ingredients except shrimp in the bowl of a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours.  Add shrimp about 30 minutes before serving, stirring to combine.  Serve and enjoy!  Store leftovers in fridge for up to 5 days.


  1. As someone who doesn't cook and is going to have to pretend she understands what is being gifted to her at her bridal shower, this dish was picked solely for its simplicity. Came out fantastic, chef!