Traditional gumbo is an amazing Louisiana casserole with Creole flavours – smoked paprika, cumin, coriander seed and dried oregano. Yum. It is to Louisiana as Chilli is to Texas. Naturally this makes me curious. While onion, celery and carrot make the basis of much French and Italian food, the trinity of Louisiana cooking is onion, celery and green capsicum, and is central to making a good gumbo. This meal is economical and delicious.
Gumbo is basically a casserole made with some sort of thickener (roux, filé or okra), veggies and delicious herbs and spices. For most modern Louisiana cooks, gumbo starts by making a roux using a cup of flour and a cup of butter. To begin, you melt the butter and slowly add flour (stirring constantly, being careful not to burn the roux). Once the roux turns a red-brown/chocolate-brown colour, it is ready to go and the vegetables can be added. This process takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
I’ve chosen to skip the roux (sacrilege I know!) to make a tasty version which is easier on the old arteries. I’ve also made it quicker to throw together on a weeknight. Basically, I love traditional gumbo, but it loves my hips too much. I’ve made my own version, by shaking wholemeal flour and spices with the chicken rather than doing it the traditional way. I’ve always found that this thickens the sauce well and results in a nice tender chicken. Basically I’ve created something akin to the flavour of gumbo, but I call mine gumby because it is not completely authentic. Plus I do love that little green slab of clay. This meal serves 4-6.
- 3 chicken breasts, chopped
- 1 green capsicum, diced
- 1 red capsicum, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 1 red cayenne chilli, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 400g can of Italian diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Herbs and spices including: 1 tsp smoked paprika,1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander seed, 1/2 tsp dried oregano (or skip all of these spices in favour of 4 tsp of premixed Cajun seasoning), 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 tbp wholemeal flour
- Tobasco sauce, to taste. Ideally use chipotle tobasco, but any will do in a pinch.
- Rice, to serve.
Chicken Gumbo is usually made with sausage. Adding any kind of sausage (particularly a smoked sausage or chorizo) would be amazeballs. When cooking this for this blog, we tried to substitute with some vegetarian sausages that I like which have 0.2g of fat per sausage, but it didn’t really work so I don’t really recommend that option. Some recipes will substitute bacon or ham instead, and some add prawns. Honestly I think that the chicken and smoked paprika are enough
- Combine spices, flour and salt and pepper, coat chicken by shaking in a bag. Oven bags work well for this, or else large snaplock bags.
- Brown chicken, remove from pan
- Fry the trinity (onion, celery, green capsicum) in a small amount of oil until translucent.
Add garlic and chilli in the final minute or so of cooking.
- Add red capsicum, bay leaves, stock and tomatoes, simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- Return chicken to pan, cook for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving.
- Meanwhile cook rice, and serve your gumbo on top. Add a few shakes of tobasco if you like. Our home grown chillies are incredibly hot so we didn’t need to, but I have always added it when using store bought chillies in the past.
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