Sunday, September 6, 2015

Texan Chicken Gumbo

I made chicken gumbo today, which I have not done since my grandmother died, and never by myself.   It's not as good as hers, but I am not dissatisfied with the result.

I didn't cook it from a written recipe, (neither did she) but I will describe it for you.  You take onion, bell pepper, and chopped celery and cook them in a little oil or fat on the bottom of your stew pot until they are clear looking.  (I added a small, medium-hot green chile.)  You then add your chicken stock, cut up chicken (already cooked) and okra—if you are not averse to okra.  Some people add other vegetables, or even sausage, although I have never seen a home-made Texas gumbo with sausage.  I added a bay leaf and a bit of cayenne for seasoning as well.  Bring to a boil, let simmer for a while until the vegetables are tender, and add some filé before serving.  (Filé is dried ground sassafras leaves.) You can omit the filé, or the okra, but not both, as they are thickeners that give it the right consistency.  Some old cook books will tell you that a gumbo must have okra: My grandmother's gumbo always did, but I have had some that don't.  Gumbo is usually served over rice.  I also served ours with croûtes (hard toast) and a chopped salad of romaine, tomatoes, celery and red onion, with a spicy buttermilk dressing. 

You can also make gumbo with fish or shrimp, or just vegetables—and you can use vegetable or fish stock, as appropriate. Gumbo is a standard traditional dish in Louisiana, East Texas, and along the central Gulf Coast.  

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