After the steamed and fried okra served as sides and the pancakes as a main course, we made gumbo. Three ways: with chicken, with fish and a vegetarian version. Gumbo is basically a stew with a dark roux base (flour cooked in oil until very dark brown, like an over-cooked gravy base), stock (chicken, fish, vegetable), poultry or fish with or without some andouille sausage, and okra. I like to add tomatoes and corn to mine, and garnish with cilantro, but I’m probably not making it authentically. Traditionally served with rice, all versions were delicious.
I discovered that making the roux in advance, letting it cool, then adding it to the “stew” allowed it to flavor the dish without making the result too floury or gravy-like. It seemed lighter and more balanced than adding the liquid to the roux and continuing straight on. My opinion. Will probably get slapped around by someone who really knows her gumbo.
Chicken, Corn and Okra Gumbo
¼ c roux (see below)
2 small boneless chicken breasts cut in thirds (or boneless chicken thighs, halved)
Vegetable oil or butter
1 onion, chopped (1/2-3/4 c)
2 stalks celery, sliced (1/2-3/4 c)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 plum tomatoes, chopped (or ¾ c chunky canned tomatoes)
2 c chicken broth
½ tsp each paprika and cayenne (or more to taste)
Andouille sausage, diced (optional)
1-2 ears of corn, kernels stripped
1 pt + okra
Parsley or cilantro
Make the roux. Heat ¼ c vegetable oil over medium heat, whisk in ¼ c all-purpose flour until smooth and cook over medium-low heat, whisking, until medium-dark brown in color, about 15 minutes. Watch it carefully. You do not want little black specks, since that means it has burned and will taste nasty. Remove from heat and set aside.
Brown the chicken on all sides in a little vegetable oil and set aside. Saute the onion and celery in the same pan until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and stir to cook until it releases its aroma. Add the tomatoes and cook them down slightly.
Add the chicken broth and roux and stir to combine. Return the chicken to the pan, add salt and pepper and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 15 minutes. (Add the andouille sausage with the chicken if you’re using it.)
Meanwhile, top and tail the okra and cut it crosswise into rings. Do this at the last minute to reduce the potential gelatinous character. Add the corn and okra to the gumbo and simmer until they are cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Add parsley or cilantro, scallions and more salt and red hot pepper if needed.
Serve hot over rice.
Variation: Fish and/or Shrimp Gumbo
Substitute fish or shrimp stock (or bottled clam juice and water) for the chicken broth. Substitute fish and/or shrimp for the chicken, and add it to the stew when you add the okra. Corn and sausage are optional.