Chicken and Crayfish White Gumbo with Fried Okra

Jeff Balfour

Southerleigh - San Antonio

Jeff Balfour served this hearty gumbo at his recent Beard House dinner. Topped with sweet, succulent crayfish and pulled chicken, this recipe combines modern coastal cuisine with Southern comfort fare.


  • One 4-pound chicken, cut into pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 pound smoked ham, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced and divided
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, stems separated and reserved, tops finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound crayfish tail meat
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon blackened fish seasoning
  • 4 ounces okra, cut thinly on a diagonal
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


Lightly season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste. Fill one large shallow dish with 1/2 cup flour and another dish with the egg. Add a few tablespoons water to the eggs and whisk together to make an egg wash. First dredge the chicken in the flour, and then in the egg wash, shaking off any excess. Dredge the chicken one last time in the flour and place on a sheet tray until all of the pieces are coated. 

In a large Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil over medium heat. Lightly brown the chicken on all sides—this should take about 3 minutes per side.  

Add the diced ham, yellow onions, 1 stalk of diced celery, jalapeños, parsley stems, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Sauté the crayfish, second stalk of diced celery, bell peppers, and shallots until the shallots start to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Season the mixture with the blackened fish seasoning. Cook about 5 minutes more until the vegetables are tender. Reserve.  

Fill a shallow dish with flour and dredge the okra in the remaining flour. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat the remaining vegetable oil and butter. Pan-fry the okra until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes. Reserve.

Remove the chicken, parsley stems, and bay leaves from the soup, discarding the herbs. Remove the bones from the chicken and discard. Add 1/3 of the pulled chicken meat, the heavy cream, and all of the liquid from the sautéed crayfish to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes. 

Purée the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor. Strain through a sieve.  

In each bowl, place some of the reserved pulled chicken, some of the sautéed crayfish, and garnish with the fried okra and chopped parsley. At the table, pour the soup into each bowl.


8 servings