Thursday, October 9, 2014

Quick Chicken Gumbo

Are y'all total go getters and always prepared for everything, or do you sometimes get wrapped up in one thing and kind of let others slide?  Last year we bought a small lake place for our retirement and worked very hard (at first) scraping, painting, hammering, sawing, building, reupholstering, name it we did it.  Then, when it was habitable we slacked off.  I mean really slacked off. We wanted to enjoy being there, not just leaving the house for the weekend to go bust our tails working. So we spent the weekends this summer  enjoying.

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.


  1. Lena, you could probably lower the carbs by eliminating the rice and using a little less flour. Of course you don't have much longer to have to watch them this closely.

  2. Oh my- this looks so good. I have never made gumbo before. It sounds and looks delicious!
    Your lake place sounds wonderful. One day when we are near retirement we hope to get something to kick back and relax with- maybe an RV for some traveling or a place by a lake somewhere or even a small cabin in he woods. We'll see. :)

    1. Dawn it is simple and very tasty. THis is not a true gumbo because you are supposed to have a truly good roux and I had a half way one. Still it tasted pretty decent.
      Hope you find a relaxing place one day. Ours is a long time coming and I imagine some day we will sell our house, get an apartment near our grandbaby and swap time between Oregon and Alabama ( the lake)

  3. Having lived in New Orleans, I know that some would say you have to have file'. However, your quick version sounds good especially when it was ready when you were hungry.

    1. Honestly I agree about the file' but necessity and invention and all that rules sometimes.

  4. Well look at you, all rehabbing a house and making dinner! I would have served uncooked noodles and told every one where to go.