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Recipe File: Okra Stew (Fast Gumbo)
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:52 pm    Post subject: Recipe File: Okra Stew (Fast Gumbo) Reply with quote


Article Digest:
Gumbo is an amazing thickened soup that has layers upon layers of flavor. Unfortunately, it also takes a long time (for me) to make, starting with homemade stock and stewing for hours as ingredients are prepared and added. For those times when I do not have the patience to prepare a true gumbo, I do this faster variant that lacks the complexity, but captures the bare essence of gumbo. Let's call it okra stew (to avoid confusion with gumbo). I tend to make this in fairly large quantities when I know that I'll be too busy to cook for the next several nights.

There's a variety of ingredients that can be used in this okra stew. The only essential one is probably okra (I use two pounds of the cut frozen variety in this recipe). In this example, I'll be preparing a chicken okra stew, but feel free to experiment with seafood (like oysters and crab or shrimp) or a vegetarian (stir-fried eggplant is fun to try) version. Start by preparing two pounds of chicken breast (about one whole breast) into rough 1/2 in. cubes. Also rough cut two green bell peppers and three ribs of celery, and finely chop one bunch of scallions (about 3/4 cup). Not show here, I also cut two medium onions into 1 in. pieces. (My eyes were watering, so I plastic wrapped the bowl and set it aside - forgetting to photograph it.)

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Next, cut one pound smoked sausage such as andouille or kielbasa into bite size pieces. Make sure you use Cajun andouille, not French (which is made of tripe and usually is not smoked and is not spicy). Apply 1 Tbs. oil to a pan and heat. Over gentle heat, brown the sausage. The sausage should have enough oil so the pan doesn't dry up while cooking. (If not, add a little more oil.)
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Meanwhile, pour 4 14 oz. cans of low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth into a large pot. Then add eight cups of water, cover, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
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Once the sausages are done browning, remove to a bowl and saute the onions (in batches if necessary) in the sausage grease. If there's not enough fat left in the pan, add some more oil as needed. Once the onions have become lightly browned (about 5-6 minutes), remove from the pan. Generously salt and pepper the chicken breast pieces and saute in the same pan at medium heat. When the outside of the chicken pieces have changed color, you can remove the pan from the heat.

Hopefully, the broth is boiling at this point. (If not, use this opportunity to saute the okra until golden. Saute the celery as well if the broth isn't boiling yet.) Pour the chopped okra into the broth along with the sauteed onions, bell peppers, and celery. When the mixture begins to boil again, add the chicken and bring the heat down to maintain a simmer. Stirring occasionally, simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. (The sausage can be added at this point if you don't like salty sausage. The flavor will infuse into the soup. Adding the sausage later will maintain more of the flavor concentrated in the sausage and less spread out in the soup.)
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After the soup has thickened (it should form strings when poured slowly from a ladle) and the chicken cooked, add the finely chopped scallions with the sausage. Salt and pepper to taste and simmer for five additional minutes.
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The final okra stew is served great over rice, but (if seasoned with a light hand) is also an excellent soup for cold winter days. Adding hot sauce or ground chile to the broth is a great way to spice up this dish.

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Okra Stew (makes about six quarts or 5.5 L)
1 lb. (450 g) smoked sausagecutsautesimmer 5 min.
2 lb. (900 g) chicken breastcubesautesimmer 30 min.
2 medium onionschopsaute
2 lb. okrachopsaute
3 celery ribschopsaute
2 medium bell pepperschop
56 oz. to 64 oz. (1.9 L) chicken brothboil
8 cups (1.9 L) water
3/4 cup (75 g) scallionsfinely chop
Copyright 2005 Michael Chu
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's spelled 'kielbasa' not 'keilbasa'. Or 'kiełbasa' (that's 'l' with a slash) if you can use unicode or central european encoding.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whoops. Forgot to run a spell check on the article. Thanks for catching the error!
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Karen
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This sounds wonderful--cozy and nourishing. I have to try it, but first I will run it through a recipe analyzer...obsessed as I am these days with calories, carbs, and the like. Which led me to the thought....are your recipes by any chance in a format easy to analyze? Or do you have access to something that could tell us stats? I don't want to create extra work for you, but it does seem sort of...engineer-y.

Actually, I will probably substitute those great chicken sausages that I get at Costco and engineer out some of the fat when I make it.
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crisper
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a reader from Louisiana, and I'll let you in on a secret we use often -- instant roux. Adding some of this to your okra stew would indeed make a fast gumbo. Here's a link to an article that explains how to use instant roux: http://www.cookinglouisiana.com/Cooking/powdered-roux.htm Many Cajun grandmothers have switched over to instant roux because it is easier and quicker.
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Carolyn
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adding a few drops of Trapper's MexiPep hot sauce will add that indifinable extra something to your gumbo. Great job, looks just like my gumbo, sans roux.
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Carolyn
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's Trappey's. Also using canned okra will add an extra tang to your gumbo you might like.
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Dr. Biggles
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ack, chicken sausage.

Do that fast roux, ya gotta have a roux in there. That'll change the dynamics of yer food right there. Deelightful. Here's my attempt:

http://www.cyberbilly.com/meathenge/archives/000347.html

Biggles
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Paul W.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roux is very easy to make in the microwave - it makes no sense to ommit it or to use some store bought processed stuff.

Take the normal porportions you would use of butter and flour, Mix well in a large pyrex messuring cup and microwave in 30 second bursts until you get the desired color. I usually bring mine up to a brick-red to dark brown color. It takes about 4 minutes in my micro wave. I cannot tell the difference between this and something I made on the stove top.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose you could make a roux in the microwave, and I guess that with practice you can learn how to do it properly. But it seems like a pretty dicey proposition to me. I mean, after all, the point of a roux for gumbo is the flavor as much as the thickening power. Maybe it's just me, but "brick red" doesn't cut it for flavor; more like mahogany. And it seems to me you wouldn't have enough control over the process in a microwave to prevent scorching and burning when you get to that point.

Maybe I'm just too skeptical, but microwaved roux? No thank you.

On topic: I like the recipe, despite my loathing of okra. And I'm glad I found this site.

Cheers,

Robert
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

re: roux flavor or thickener?

In traditional gumbo, the roux is used more for flavor than for thickening power. The darker the roux (the longer you cook it), the more flavor it has, but by the time it's a deep mohagony, it doesn't have much in the way of thickening power. That role is given to the okra or the file powder.
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Dr. Biggles
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eeek, arguing over to to make a proper roux is akin to arguing over which is better, a pc or mac.

It depends on what your taste is and/or what you're preparing.

I can offer a wonderful resource from somone born & raised in NOLA, if that helps anyone. I've done a handful of his recipes and read many more than that. His recipes are spot on, for the most part.

Chuck Taggart's Gumbo Pages

http://www.gumbopages.com/recipe-page.html
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Paul W.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another reference for Gumbo is a book called, "The Little Book of Gumbo". I picked up a copy while on my Honeymoon a few years ago. Its where I found the idea for Microwave Roux. There is also an interesting idea for toasting the flour in the oven. Then it is stored in the fridge (up to 2 months if I remember correctly). When the time comes for roux, you just melt some butter and add the toasted flour. The book contains a lot of history and lore and a nice variety of recipes - both quick and traditional. For more tradition, of course, nothing beats Chez P.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0937552178/qid=1105650100/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-2720751-3560602?v=glance&s=books

By the way, the microwave roux has the same depth and nutty flavor as anything I've made in the more traditional ways. Control is no problem: simply adjust the power level once you begin to reach the desired color.
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carla lynn hall
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I LOVE gumbo!! I'm looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks!

carla lynne hall aka mama soul
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Elliott
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Down here in Louisiana, there are two prevalent types of gumbo- Chicken and andouille sausage, or seafood (crab, and shrimp- sometimes scallops)

The local grocery stores carry 'gumbo crabs', split and ready to go in the pot. In my estimation, there is nothing better than a good seafood gumbo.

Everyone I talk to down here says 'ta make a good gumbo, ya gotta start with a good roux'. I use equal parts oil and flour, and simmer until mahogany, and smells nutty. Lightly scorched, actually.

Once the roux cools, add stock or water, and bring up to simmer- add in the gumbo craps, the trinity (onion, bell pepper, and celery), and whatever-the-hell-else you want to put in there.

As for the Okra, common wisdom down here says, get fresh okra, and saute in a seperate pan before adding to the pot. that way, it won't get all slimy...
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