Monday, August 19, 2013

Loving on GUMBO

I'm crazy about (chicken and/or seafood) gumbo, but only when okra is in season. It's the one key ingredient without which you don't have gumbo, and it just doesn't work for me to use frozen okra. Well, that time has come: plenty of fresh okra is at farmers’ markets now.
I know that okra can be a hard veggie to love, but if you cook it separately (sautéed) to remove the gooey “ropes,” you’ll probably enjoy it as much as I do in a dish such as this one.
Gumbo is a bit of a project with lots of steps, so I only make it once or twice per summer. But my recipe makes a large potful, enough for several meals. The finished stew freezes quite well.
Chicken and shrimp gumbo

My usual recipe uses chicken and shrimp, but the past couple of summers I’ve added a less healthful but delicious extra—(chicken) Andouille sausage. I just use one large sausage and it ramps up the flavor beautifully. If you want, go ahead and use pork Andouille, and put in as much as you feel like. The recipe below calls for two chicken sausages (from Trader Joe’s), but you can make it one, or omit the sausage altogether to be a better "healthy foodie."


(Serves 4-6)

1 lb. okra, trimmed and sliced (about 4 cups)
4 T canola oil or butter, or a mix, divided
1 medium green pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 T flour
4 cups chicken stock, heated
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 T each chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried) and parsley
1 large bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 lb. uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined), crabmeat, or chicken (boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces), or a combination
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Tabasco or other hot sauce, or more to taste

1.      Heat 2T oil/butter over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add okra and sauté, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.
2.      Heat remaining oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pepper, garlic and onion and sauté until veggies turn translucent, about 5 minutes. OPTIONAL: Stir in 1-2 Andouille sausages, sliced and sautéed first in a small frying pan.
3.      Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, herbs, salt, and reserved okra.
4.      Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
5.      Stir in shrimp, chicken and/or crabmeat, cover and cook another 5-10 minutes until meat is tender. Be careful not to overcook shrimp.
6.      Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf, stir in lemon juice, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Add more salt if necessary.
7.      Ladle into bowls over white or brown rice. Pass more hot sauce at the table.

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