In Honor of Fat Tuesday today, I made Gumbo for dinner. I have to admit it's been a while since I last made it, so it took me a minute to gather my thoughts. It didn't take long for it all to come flying right back to memory and soon we had a luscious Louisiana favorite on the table. It had been so long that my Cajun seasoning had turned to stone and I was left to my own devices as far as spices went. All and all it was a hit and super comforting on this cold and rainy day. Caz hates okra, but he did indulge me by trying it my way...crunchy and fried as a topping instead of slimming the inside of the dish. Give this deliciousness a try.
1 1/2 pounds chicken legs and thighs
1/2 pound breakfast sausage
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 to 4 celery ribs with tops, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup bacon grease or cooking oil for rue, plus extra for cooking vegetables
1/4 cup flour
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons cornstarch for thickening if necessary
1 pound shrimp, peeled and tails removed
1 cup white rice
2 cups frozen breaded okra
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley
In heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven, poach chicken until thoroughly cooked, about half an hour or so. When chicken is done, cool, remove from the bone and discard bones. Chop in bite size pieces. Set aside. Remove and save chicken broth in a bowl. This will be your stock.
In the same pot that is now empty, add sausage to pot and brown. If necessary add a few tablespoons bacon grease or oil and turn heat to medium high. Add bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Cook until onion and bell pepper is tender and garlic is fragrant, stirring as needed. Turn off heat while you make the rue.
In a skillet on medium high heat, add the bacon grease or oil and whisk as you slowly add the flour. Cook flour mixture until the color becomes a light reddish brown. This may take a few minutes, but do not turn up heat. The flour needs this time to cook the floury taste out and the rue will only burn. When rue is finished cooking, stir into the vegetable mixture. Don't return the pot to the heat at this point.
In a medium bowl mix all the herbs and spices and add the contents of the bowl to the pot. Add the chicken, broth, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and the bay leaves to the pot. Return to medium low heat and allow to thicken. If mixture does not thicken to the right consistency, them mix cornstarch with enough water to make a loose paste and add to hot ingredients in pot.
Add shrimp in at the last and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes on low heat.
Add rice to a pot with 2 cups boiling salted (1/4 teaspoon salt) water. Bring to a boil again and turn heat to simmer. Cover and set timer for 20 minutes. Rice will be perfect and fluffy.
Deep fry breaded okra in a pot of oil on medium high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
To plate, add rice to a bowl or plate and top with gumbo. Top with crispy fried okra. Enjoy!