Sunday, March 2, 2014

Oh! Okra! - March 2, 2014

This is my birthday week and Fat Tuesday is this week as well, so what better way to celebrate than with okra.  O.K., I know okra isn't everyone's favorite vegetable, but it is mine.  I love that it is warm and buttery and can be made with nothing but a pot of boiling water and a bit a salt.  2013 was a banner year for okra in Kentucky because it was so warm for so long.  I was able to freeze bags and bags of okra pods right from the garden last summer and yesterday I took out the last one from the freezer.

And, don't forget I said it is almost Fat Tuesday which if you have okra means GUMBO.  Gumbo is one of those great recipes that is basically an okra stew that can be made with whatever local meat you have to add.  So, I did use some local chicken thighs, but I love gumbo with big juicy shrimp, so I added those as well.  You can easily double this recipe, but it made a big pot which was plenty for the three of us to each over three days.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

5 c. water
1 1/2 lb. of large raw shrimp (peeled and shells reserved)
1 lb. andouille sausage
1 lb. okra cut in rounds (I used frozen but it's even better with fresh because they don't turn to mush)
4 chicken thighs (or legs)
1/4 c. plus 2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. plus 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
5 scallions, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
4 bay leaves
1 T. Creole seasoning
2 T. file powder

Drop shrimp shells in water in heavy pan and simmer until water takes on flavor of shells (about 30 minutes).  Cut sausage in thin rounds and saute in another pan over medium.  Remove sausage once it starts to brown to a bowl lined with paper towel and use another paper towel and spoon to remove the grease but keep any sausage bits stuck to the bottom.  Add a T. oil and heat to medium.

Add the okra and cook on medium until all the slime is removed and the okra starts to brown and get dry.  Remove the okra to another bowl and add another T. (or two) of oil.  Dip the chicken pieces in flour and place in pan and turn heat to medium-high.  Fry chicken pieces on all sides until the flour browns and remove to another bowl.

Now add the 1/4 c. oil to your pan and heat over medium.  Once hot, slowly add flour to create a thin roux.  Keep cooking while stirring until the roux turns a dark caramel color, 10-15 minutes. Now, add onions and cook until wilted.  Then add garlic, parsley, scallions, bell pepper and celery. Strain the shells from your stock and add it and your broth.  Also add sausage, chicken and bay leaves.  Simmer for an hour.  If you are using fresh okra, you can add now as well.  If frozen, I would add after cooking 30 minutes.

Add the shrimp and Creole seasoning and cook until shrimp are cooked through (no more than 15 minutes).  Add file and allow to sit 15 minutes.  Skim fat, taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve over rice.

One Year Ago - Walnut Cake and Canadian Biscuits
Two Years Ago - Homemade Limoncello

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