Had a refrigerator filled with dubious items: wilted celery, some senescent chicken thighs, half a pound of summer sausage (Klement's) left over from my birthday, a cup and a half of organic chicken broth in a carton.
First, I made a roux. Melted a third a stick of butter in a pan, added about the same amount of flour. Browned it until it looked like cafe au lait, and then a little darker. The bubbles as it browned looked like camera flashes in a stadium, quick little pulses. Turned off the burner, stirred in some paprika that was going stale, until it became the color known to early Crayola users as "Indian red".
I chopped up two small-mediumish onions, added them to the roux, stirred it until the onion bits were all coated, covered the pan and let them sweat. Did the same for the wilting celery.
In a different pan, I browned up the chicken thighs, cut into small pieces, then sauteed them with two diced peppers. Added the chicken broth, just covering the mixture. When that began to boil down, I added some tomato juice. The summer sausage, cut into pie slices, went in there as well.
I let both pans cook for a while, checking in now and then like a nosy neighbor. The roux mixture was turning into a pan full of brown goop, the liquid from the onions and celery fusing with the roux. The peppers were cooking tender in the other pan. I added a dose of hot sauce and Worchestershire sauce to that pan, producing the happy aroma of a Bloody Mary.
Then, the moment of truth. I poured the hot brown roux mixture into the bubbling peppers and meats. Yeah, it's a big skillet, cast iron and deep. The tomato and chicken broth blended with the roux perfectly, becoming thicker and richer, the roux adding a silky "mouth feel" to the broth.
I let it cook for about twenty more minutes, and had a small bowl. Very good. There are about six more bowls to go, more if I serve it with rice.
The best part about gumbo is, it's even better the next day.