Gumbo is Cajun comfort food that is usually cooked during the cooler days of fall and winter, or in our family, whenever there is a forecast for stormy weather. On my last post, I said that since the forecast here did not show any signs of cooler weather any time soon, I was going to turn the thermostat colder and make okra gumbo. That is what I did. However, I cooked it not only because it had been months since the last time I ate gumbo, but also because of the comfort it would bring after hearing about the stormy forecast for our area. Many parts of Louisiana received record breaking rain. Our area received over 22 inches of rain. I thank God our home was spared from flooding and I ask you to please pray for all those in the flood damaged areas.
As the first raindrops began to fall, I placed my enamel coated cast iron pot on the stove, turned the heat to high, and drizzled olive oil into the bottom of the pot. I added 12 ounces of smoked andouille sausage that I had cut into ¼ inch slices. I allowed this to brown lightly and then removed them from the pot. Then I added 2 large boneless chicken breast that I had cut into small cubes and seasoned with 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ¼ teaspoon of red pepper. When the chicken was browned and thoroughly cooked, I removed it from the pot also.
Next, I added 2 cups of onion, 1 ½ cups of celery, ¾ cup of bell peppers and ¾ cup of banana peppers (you can use 1 ½ cups of bell peppers if you don’t have banana peppers). The combination of chopped onions, celery, and bell peppers is known as the Cajun Trinity. You can use fresh ingredients, however mine came from my freezer. The bell peppers, celery, and some of the onions were grown in my garden. Over the next few posts I will bring you back into the garden to show you how I have been harvesting and freezing my peppers and the recipes I use them in.
I cooked the veggies until they became soft. I added ¼ cup of water, as needed, to keep the veggies from sticking and burning. Once the veggies were softened, I added the 4 cups of smothered okra from my quart bag and 7 cups of water. My okra was defrosted, however you can add it in frozen. If you add it frozen, it will add to your cooking time.
Once the gumbo gets to a soft boil, I reduce the heat to medium/low and add in the chicken, sausage, and salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add 1 tablespoon of gumbo file at this time, although some Cajun cooks only add it to the finished gumbo.
I let my gumbo cook for an hour or more, enjoying the comforting aroma that fills my home. Then I filled a bowl with the gumbo, added a large spoonful of rice and a sprinkle of gumbo file on top.
When finished, I peeked out the kitchen door, to my now flooded walkway of my garden and was thankful that I had raised beds in my garden.