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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gumbo

It's really easy to get stuck in a rut, cooking and eating the same thing over and over again. I try to avoid this by carefully selecting my recipes each month, and keeping a log/journal of the ones that I have done. This is all very well, but there is only my husband and I, so when I pick recipes, I have to carefully check that although the recipes are different, the ingredients are either something I will have in my pantry or are the same, after all I have a budget to stick to. I suppose as with most places it's cheaper to buy in bulk, the problem is the waste there's little point in buying a pre-packaged container of 6 tomatoes, because it's cheaper than buying say 3, unless you are going to use them. So I tend to try and pick several recipes with tomatoes (I'm using tomatoes as an example). The other thing I do, more for my own sense of need than anything else is, research recipes I am unsure of. Gumbo, I knew it came from, New Orleans - Louisiana, way. Creole food, but I wasn't sure what that meant? Turns out it has several meanings, or means different things to different people. For example in the west indies and Latin America Creole would imply you are of mixed European and African descent, and in the Gulf coast of the U.S, French descent. Then of course food - I'm still confused.com. Okra though is what really started my research for this recipe, I was none the wiser as to what it was, what it tastes like or what it is used for. I've since found out it's a vegetable. African slaves, smuggled the Okra seeds on their bodies when they came to America, and then planted them. Okra is used as a natural thickener in Gumbo, which by the way is a stew type soup thing, *no offence intended by the use of the word thing.* Okra worried me slightly because although you can find it in abundance in America, I have yet to see it here and Okra goes in Gumbo - I wanted to make gumbo but could I call it Gumbo without the authenticity of Okra? Turns out I can because you can also use a roux to thicken it. So here's Gumbo.... As always I am open to any suggestions, in which I can improve the recipe!

Chicken Gumbo

15g Butter
450g Chicken breast, cubed
12 button onions
1 Rasher bacon, diced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp corriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
225g Okra or a roux can be used, or simply use cornflour/cornstarch with water (this last one won't add any flavour to the dish)
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
225g canned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 large bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried oregano
600ml chicken stock
salt and pepper
225g long grain rice
1 tbsp fresh parsley

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan (dutch oven if you have one, I don't). Add the chicken and brown, stirring continuously over a high heat for about 3 minutes. Next add the onions, bacon, turmeric, coriander, and chilli powder. Still stirring cook for another minute.

2. Except for the rice and parsley add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cover and very gently simmer for an hour. Cook the rice according to package directions (allowing the hour for the gumbo to cook).

3. Remove the bay leaf. Taste the gumbo and season if necessary. Serve in warm bowls on top of the rice and a sprinkling of parsley.

I served mine with naan bread, only because I had some which needed using up, and I thought it would be nice to mop the sauce up with!

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