Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Okra Gumbo

Rows of okra at Tierra Miguel Farm in Pauma Valley, CA

A few weeks ago, I saw an okra plant for the first time. I was stunned by it's beauty. Okra grows on a tall stalk and has blooms similar to a hibiscus. I was inspired to make a big pot of gumbo with the bag of okra I brought home with me that day. I pulled some ideas from a few of my favorite cookbooks and here is what I came up with. This gumbo is perfect for a cold fall or winter night. You can use frozen okra if fresh is not available.


4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups fresh okra, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
4–5 cloves garlic, diced
1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes, with their juice
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch discs
1 pound shrimp
Brown Rice

In a large heave pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add okra and sauté until golden brown and softened, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, remove okra and reserve in bowl.

Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, sauté until lightly browned all over (3-5 minutes). Remove using a slotted spoon and reserve in another bowl.

Add the canola oil and heat for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the flour, stirring until incorporated to make the roux. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, cooking the roux until it gets nice and golden brown (about 4–6 minutes). Reduce heat to medium and add onion and peppers. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally (8–10 minutes). Add the garlic and cook 1–2 minutes more.

Add the cooked okra, diced tomatoes with their juice, chicken stock, creole seasoning, smoked paprika, thyme and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened (about 20 minutes). Add the browned chicken and allow to cook through (about 10 minutes more).

Add the sausage and shrimp, cooking until sausage is heated and shrimp is pink and cooked through (about 3–4 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve over steamed brown rice, topping each bowl with a couple cracks of fresh ground black pepper and a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves.

Serves 6

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