Gumbo and rainy day comfort food

bowlThe weather has not been kind to Sydney this week. Earlier in the week it was so uncomfortably humid that leaving the haven of my air-conditioned house made me immediately hot – the air was syrupy with humidity. I made my watermelon and feta salad to cool down on Saturday and had planned to eat the leftovers today.

That was an optimistic plan, because today we had rain; persistent, cold and accompanied by wind.

On the plus side, it was good weather for baking! I baked a lemon and coconut cake similar to these little beauties, and one of my new favourite recipes, gumbo.

It’s so warming and wholesome, I love it! I hadn’t tried gumbo until last year, but I fell in love with it instantly. It suits rainy days perfectly. If I’m after comfort food, I usually opt for sweet/baked things, but gumbo is like a hug in a bowl, it’s perfect for those days when you need some lovin’ from your food to keep away the chill.

Serves 8-10

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oiltender meat
  • 2kg skinless chicken thigh cutlets
  • 2 brown onions, chopped
  • 4 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock cubes
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 x 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 150g okra*, halved
  • 1 cup white medium grain rice
  • 3 cups hot water

brownHeat ½  tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook half of the chicken thighs for three minutes each side and then repeat with the second half. You should crisp up the outsides nicely. Place cooked chicken on a plate covered with paper towel to soak up excess oils.

onionTurn heat down to medium and add onion and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onion has softened.

Add  cayenne pepper and Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

simmerReturn chicken to pan. stock, thyme and tomatoes. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 1 ½  hours or until chicken is tender. Stir every now and then to make sure that nothing is sticking to the base of the pan.

Increase heat to medium. Stir in okra, rice and water. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring regularly for 15-20 minutes or until okra and rice are tender.

Keep an eye on the gumbo in the last five minutes of cooking if you want a thin, runny gumbo; I left mine for the full 20 minutes (and maybe even a few more) because I love mine thick.

Serve and enjoy!

okra* Not sure where to find Okra in Australia? It can be a little bit hard. I found mine in a small, local fruit shop and they can often be found in Asian grocery stores. They were labelled “broad beans” – keep an eye out for their distinctive shape if you think they’ve been mis-labelled.

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