Gumbo Ya-Ya

Plunging further into the heart of the Quarter, we’re at Cindy Brennan’s sleek and stylish Mr. B’s Bistro to sample the famous, award-winning Gumbo Ya-Ya (chicken and andouille) that flies out of the kitchen during the lunch hour, when the place is populated by power brokers ordering big bowls of head-on barbecue shrimp bathed in pools of garlic-tinged butter sauce. Men are wearing bibs.

Late Chef Michelle McRaney, at the helm for more than 21 years, was an ace at gumbo. “The secret is really taking your time with that roux,” she said “At Mr. B’s, we do our roux in the oven.” “The oven?” I asked in surprise. “Sure,” Michelle said. “That way, we have more control, and we don’t have to constantly stir it. For the amount of roux we make, we cook it four to five hours to bring it to a nice mahogany color for that nutty flavor, then we add a rich chicken stock.”

Gumbo Ya-Ya
Mr. B's Bistro's award-winning Gumbo Ya-Ya (chicken and andouille) is a favorite among New Orleans locals and tourists alike.
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  1. 1 cup unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  3. 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  4. 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  5. 1 medium onion, diced
  6. 1 celery stalk, diced
  7. 10 cups Rich Chicken Stock, recipe follows
  8. ½ pound andouille sausage, sliced ¼-inch-thick
  9. 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  10. 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  11. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  12. ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  13. ½ teaspoon chili powder
  14. ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  15. 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  16. 1 bay leaf
  17. Meat from 1 (3½-pound) roasted chicken, shredded
  18. Hot sauce
  19. Hot cooked rice (Optional)
  20. French bread (Optional)
  1. In a 12-quart stockpot or Dutch oven, melt butter over low heat.
  2. Gradually add ⅓ cup flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and cook 30 seconds. Repeat this step twice.
  3. Continue cooking roux, stirring constantly, until it is the color of dark mahogany, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Add bell pepper, and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add onion and celery, and stir constantly 30 seconds. Gradually add Rich Chicken Stock to roux, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent lumps.
  5. Add andouille, Creole seasoning, salt, black pepper, red pepper, chili powder, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Simmer gumbo, uncovered, 45 minutes, skimming off any fat and stirring occasionally.
  6. Add meat, and simmer 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and hot sauce, if desired. Serve over rice or with French bread, if desired.
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Rich Chicken Stock
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  1. 3 pounds chicken pieces (necks, wings, legs, backs, or thighs)
  2. 12 cups cold water, plus more as needed
  3. 4 stalks celery, chopped
  4. 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  5. 2 onions, chopped
  6. 1 bay leaf
  7. 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  8. 1 tablespoon salt
  1. In a large stockpot, combine chicken with 12 cups cold water, celery, carrot, onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, skimming any foam, 3 hours. Add water as needed to cover.
  2. Strain stock and discard solids. Add salt and just enough water for stock to equal 10 cups. Let cool, uncovered, and refrigerate until ready to use. Stock may be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated, or frozen, up to 3 months.
Louisiana Cookin


    • In the interview, Chef Michelle mentions that at the restaurant she bakes her roux. It gives them more control over the consistency of the roux in the large batches they have to make. For the home version of the recipe, she uses a regular stovetop roux.

    • It states they cook it in the oven for 4 to 5 hours. My roux is done on top of stove for 45 minutes. They do it in the oven so they don’t have to continously watch or stir it.
      Hope this helps

  1. This was perfection and simply amazing, although time consuming, but well worth the effort. We were in Nashville last week and I tried Gumbo Ya YA for the first time ever at BB King’s restaurant and it was the best flavor I ever had in my mouth! And this recipe, came very close. I did stir the roux constantly for about an hour, it only reached what I would call medium caramel color not dark mahogany, but I was plenty satisfied with it like that. I did follow the recipe with the exception that I simmered the chicken for 2 hours instead of 3 because I wanted to eat at a reasonable time and once I started cooking, I realized I would need the homemade chicken stock for the roux. Was still fine. Thankyou for a great recipe~

  2. I am making this for the 3rd time and today just realized…the recipe calls for meat from 3-1/2 lb roasted chicken PLUS 3 lbs of chicken for the stock. Is this correct? I’ve just been shredding the 3 pounds of chicken from the chicken stock and not using the roasted chicken as well and it’s been more than enough chicken. Could you clarify please? Thanks!

    • Generally, after any protein and it’s bones have been cooked for hours in water to produce a stock, the flavor has left the solids and is in the water, which is the entire point of making a stock. You toss the solids after because they have done their job. The protein, in this case chicken, would have very little flavor left for you to enjoy in the gumbo. Can you use it? Sure, but you will have far happier tastebuds, (and dinner guests), if you follow the directions and use a fresh chicken cooked & shredded for the gumbo.

  3. Recipe calls for one (1) stalk Celery in the Gumbo and 4 stalks in the roux. To me that seems to be a lot of celery – Are they talking about a whole stalk (as in the whole plant/head) or a rib of celery?

  4. I made this for the first time yesterday. As I am a lover of cooking, my partner challenged me. I had purchased some linguisa and chourico and asked if he would like me to make a jumbalaya. He said no, I want you to make Gumbo Yaya, which I thought was him making fun of me. Well I looked at several recipes and found this one. I made it and added the two additional sausages and it was phenomenal. He turned to me and said, this is almost as good as the one I had at Mr. B’s in New Orleans. I told him it was their recipe, so you did a good job of being able to make a home cook replicate (almost with my own twist) your recipe.

    Also, if you want a slightly richer stock, I added a tablespoon of bourbon smoked paprika which took this mouth watering meal over the top.

  5. I used this recipe tonite. It turned out great. I made a double batch and used half again as much Creole seasoning as the recipe called for. made myself from the description in the book. I baked the roux at 450, stirring it every 10 minutes, and then turned off the oven and it sat for another 20 minutes. I transferred the roux to a stock pot on medium flame and added the peppers and onion first for a few minutes, then the garlic and celery, light salt and pepper and a pinch of white sugar each time to get them carmelizing. Then I added all the rest of the ingredients having brought 5 quarts of water to a boil already. I used half as much bouillon as called for. I used 2 – 12oz of Aidelle’s andouille and 4 – 6 oz chicken breast that I shredded about 10 minutes before it was done simmering/low boil for 45 minutes.

    It was my first time making gumbo and it is fire.


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