I vividly remember the first time I had gumbo. I was flying with my mom to Florida to visit my Grandma Kay. We were flying USAir and were given a choice for our lunch entree, one of which was chicken gumbo. Feeling adventurous, I tried and loved it.
Now, I ask you, what is the most amazing part of the above story?
1. We were served a hot meal on a short flight
2. I was young and chose to eat gumbo
Hmm, I believe it is a toss-up.
You see, I was a pretty picky eater as a child, but for some reason, perhaps being lured by the exotic idea of flying (a rarity as a child, we drove everywhere!) I did the daring and ordered the gumbo.
I've always had a soft spot in my heart for gumbo and this week in Columbus, it is perfect gumbo weather. My version uses an oven to toast the flour (a key component in any gumbo), rather than frying it in oil. The flavors are rich and hearty, but this dish is full of nutrition.
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces light chorizo or andouille sausage, diced
1 - 28 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 quart chicken broth
15 okra pods, ends cut off, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup brown rice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a oven safe dish, sprinkle the flour and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, in a large stock pot over medium high heat, heat the oil. Add the carrot, celery and onion, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, cook 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook 4-5 minutes, or until it browns slightly. Reduce the heat to medium low, and once the flour is ready, add the flour and stir well.
Once the flour is fully incorporated, add the tomatoes and chicken broth. Increase the heat to medium high, and stir well, to ensure no lumps form. Add the okra, pepper, thyme and oregano. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the brown rice and simmer for 35-40 minutes. *Alternatively, you can do the above steps in the morning, add the brown rice and cook on low for 8-10 hours in a slow cooker, 4-6 hours on high.*
Serve with crusty bread and hot sauce, if desired.
Feel free to alter the proteins in this dish to your heart's content: add chicken, shrimp or use only vegetables. Alter away!