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Death by Gumbo

By John Folse From Moveable Feast Season 2, Ep.1
Scott Phillips

Servings: 6

Gumbo begins with making a roux, a combination of oil and flour which thickens, colors, and flavors the dish. Chef Folse likes to strain his gumbo before serving it, but you can also enjoy it as is—chock-full of vegetables and sausage.


For the game hens

  • 6 Cornish game hens, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb. each
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. gumbo filé powder
  • 1 oz. andouille sausage, cut into 12 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 6 raw oysters, shucked
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil; more as needed

For the gumbo

  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 3 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
  • 3 oz. white button mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 2-1/2 oz. andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • 1-1/2 quarts lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 medium scallions, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley; more for garnish


Roast the hens

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
  • Pat the hens dry inside and out. Sprinkle each hen inside and out with 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper, and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder.
  • In a small bowl, combine the rice with the parsley, filé powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder. Stuff the cavity of each hen with 1 piece of sausage to plug the neck opening, 1/4 cup of the rice mixture, 1 additional slice of sausage, and 1 oyster, pressing each into the rice mixture. Truss the legs of each hen with twine and secure the lower cavity opening with a toothpick to keep the stuffing inside.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Working in batches, sear the hens, breast side down, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the hens, breast side up, to a lightly oiled roasting pan.
  • Roast the hens until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°F, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer the hens to a cutting board, tent with foil, and set aside.

Make the gumbo

  • Meanwhile, adjust the amount of oil in the Dutch oven to measure 1/2 cup. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly and scraping up any caramelized bits from the hens. Cook the roux until it’s smooth and a deep chocolatey brown, about 15 minutes.
  • Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and minced garlic. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and sausage and cook until the mushrooms soften, about 3 minutes. Slowly stir in the chicken broth, stirring constantly, until the liquid is the consistency of heavy cream.
  • Stir in the thyme, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions and parsley, and remove from the heat.
  • Ladle about 3/4 cup of gumbo in a wide, shallow bowl, nestle a hen in the center, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve.


Recipe adapted from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.

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