I mentioned in an earlier post that "Southern" started to seep into our family when my brother married his Southern Belle...while that's true for my family, it's not true for me...oh no...I began to get my indoctrination the minute I said "I DO" to the mister - who was raised on a tobacco farm in North Carolina and then spent his formative years in Maryland - living the first third of his life below the Mason-Dixon line. When we got married before a Justice of the Peace in Memphis, Tennessee, little did I know, being oh so young and stupid - (so young it was almost criminal!!) that eating Southern would become a BIG part of my life - starting with grits every Sunday morning...yes, EVERY Sunday morning! When we lived in the South, I began to realize that I was a Southern gal at heart - even though I have an aversion to the word Ma'am. We usually have some sort of annual Gumbo-Fest - it's great fun to make a big batch of gumbo and invite over the neighbors - because it ain't really Southern food unless it's shared... but today, being Oscar Sunday and all....with the "pre-game" festivities starting at 3:30... we decided not to invite anyone over - we don't like any distractions when watching the Oscars...nope, it's just the mister and me in our PJ's - with gumbo from 3:30 on...
I had two gumbo recipes and over the years I ended up combining them into one very tasty gumbo...of course, this gumbo has okra in it because the mister grew up eating okra in his gumbo - (all gumbo's are not created equal and not all have okra - but adding okra, which is somewhat "slimey" really adds to the finished gumbo)...fresh okra is hard to find around here so I use frozen. If there is a secret to gumbo, it's the roux....it's got to be cooked until it's a deep chocolate color or it just won't have the depth of flavor that you need....
The roux starts out with oil drippings and flour, so it's fairly light in color. As the roux cooks, over medium heat and for about 20 to 25 minutes, the color deepens and just when you think it's deep enough, give it another few minutes - it should be the color of dark chocolate.
This gumbo freezes well and since it makes a big batch I'll freeze what we don't eat today and we'll probably eat this again on another special occasion - uh-huh, the Oscars are a special occasion...like when we're watching the Final Four...actually, the mister watches the Final Four - I watch him. He's a riot when watching college hoops - he jumps up and down and screams at the TV - it's great entertainment! His team, his alma mater, Memphis, is currently number 1 in the country - at least until the polls come out tomorrow morning - they lost last night to number 2 Tennesee...another one of "his teams" - so it was a HUGE night around here - he's a little hoarse this morning and my sides ache from laughing at his antics!
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. andouille sausage or other smoked sausage, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup flour
3 green onions, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1 (10 oz.) package frozen okra
1 large red pepper, chopped
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon (or more) Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet over medium high heat, season and brown chicken in 1/4 cup oil for 10 minutes. Add celery, green onions, red pepper, green pepper, onion and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are softened. Remove from skillet into a large bowl. In same skillet brown sausage, adding a little more oil if needed. Remove to bowl with chicken and vegetables. Pour any remaining oil from the skillet into a large Dutch oven or stock pot, adding enough additional oil to measure 1/2 cup. Stir in flour, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly...and I mean constantly... until roux is chocolate colored - almost a deep reddish-brown color. Be careful not to burn it - which is easy to do, or you will have to start over...have I said that enough?!?
When the roux is done, very slowly add in chicken broth, be careful as this will splatter. Using a whisk, mix the broth with the roux. Add in the chicken, vegetables and sausage. Mix to combine. Stir in the seasonings, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and adjust salt and pepper. Stir in frozen okra. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for one hour, partially covered. Remove gumbo from heat. Serve over hot, cooked rice.