Fast forward to fall. We are having a family reunion this weekend and all those unfinished projects WE could ignore really did need to be finished before having people who know me well enough to really say what is on their mind over. For the past 2 weeks I have been running back and forth doing all of the much needed work and finally got the last of the big projects completed yesterday. Whew!
This flurry of activity means we have been eating whatever can be thrown together in a few minutes. For the most part it has been a pretty random assortment of frozen leftovers. ( Of course I pretend it was done by design rather than total chance. If I throw together a side salad and everyone has a different reheated leftover entree, it was intentional, right?)
Last night after getting home at dark I realized I was out of leftovers! Ack! Real cooking had to take place and I needed to get it done in about 30 minutes. I think I had mentioned before we are being overrun with okra this year and sure enough, there was a container of freshly cut okra on the counter the minute I walked in the kitchen. That meant something with okra and the 2 chicken breasts living in the refrigerator. Bingo! Gumbo!
Quick Chicken Gumbo
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1/3 cup flour
2 cups sliced okra
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts, boned and cut into bite sized pieces
5 cups water ( 5 cups chicken broth if desired)
4 shrimp bouillon cubes (use if not using chicken broth)
1 teaspoon tomato bouillon (optional)
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning ( I use the low salt variety)
2 bay leaves
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked rice
I did not have time to make a proper roux, so I settled for an improper one. In a large pot, heat the oil to a medium heat and stir in the flour. Continue stirring and cooking the "paste" until it the flour is cooked well and the color darkens. (A good roux should cook for at least 30 minutes, should be made using clarified butter and become a beautiful brown. Mine wasn't) I spent a little over 5 minutes on the roux and cooked it to a light butterscotch color. When it colors, add the okra directly to the roux. It will make a loud slapping sound. Stir it continually until the sound stops (2-3 minutes). This will help the gumbo thicken but will contain the okra slime factor. Add the onion, celery,bell pepper and garlic to the pot and stir until it is wilted. Add about a cup of the water (or broth) and stir to mix everything well, then add the rest of the liquid. If using bouillon cubes add them now along with the chicken pieces. Also add the spices. Turn the heat to medium high and let it cook uncovered until the chicken is cooked through. Stir often and add more liquid if necessary. As soon as the chicken is cooked toss the rice into the pot let it heat for a couple of minutes and serve.
This is not exactly as I would have liked it to look, but as I said, I did the hurry up version of roux making. I like the gumbo to be a tad darker than this. Also, if I had thawed smoked sausage I would have added it to the pot, but it was frozen solid and time was critical. If you are a purist, you will argue about the bay leaves. Normally I would have used file' powder but I had none. Though bay leaves are not exactly the same flavor as the sassafras in file' it is a decent substitute.
TheHub and Son2 both thought it was very good, and this made enough for dinner for the 3 of us with a couple of servings frozen for later. If you have time make cornbread and serve it along with the gumbo. I think it would be fabulous together.
So summons your inner cajun and let the good times roll with a non traditional take on gumbo.