There are a few recipes that define a person. The whole family waits with anticipation as the holidays approach because of 'Grandma's pumpkin pie' or 'Aunt Chloe's homemade rolls'.
The Maven has gumbo. We moved to Northwest Georgia and discovered that people here did not not what gumbo was. They made something called Brunswick Stew, which is kind of like bar b q soup. So the record had to be set straight.
This particular recipe has a chicken base, so it is not too expensive. Generally, my 22 qt. soup pot is full to the brim with a single recipe, but it freezes well as the individual components or as a completed stew. The traditional way to eat it is over rice, but I eschew the rice and garlic bread and leave those for the carb-eaters in the house.
There are four things to combine. Here ya go:
6 lbs frozen, sliced okra
1 cup vinegar (1/2 cup per pan)
2 tablespoons oil (1 tablespoon per pan)
Spread the okra out on 2 stoneware pans or broiler pans (no need to defrost). Sprinkle the vinegar and oil over the okra and use your hands to spread it evenly over all of the batch. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Watch carefully if you use the broiler pan to keep it from scorching.
Roasting like this shrinks the okra and keeps it from falling apart in the broth. The seeds look like little eye balls if they are floating all around!
Chicken and Broth
Boil 2 chickens in 1 1/2 gallons of water with
12 bay leaves
1 teaspoon liquid crab boil
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons Emeril's Essence seasoning (or your favorite cajun seasoning)
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper
Simmer until tender. If you can, chill the broth to allow the fat to rise to the top so you can skim it off. Pull the chicken from the bones and shred to pieces that can generously cover a spoon.
3 cups chopped onions
1 bulb garlic, crushed
3 cups chopped celery
3 cups chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup bacon grease or oil
In Creole and Cajun cooking, this is called the "blessed Trinity" and is the basis of many dishes. Saute the veggies in bacon grease or oil until limp. (do a little dance if all of this came from your garden)
Roux - (pronounced 'roo')
1 1/2 cups bacon grease (or oil in a pinch)
2 cups flour - all purpose for you carb eaters - soy flour or coconut flour for low carb, gluten free or paleo eaters
(Note: here's the reason to go get that iron skillet you've been wanting - the roux is much less likely to burn with the even heat of nicely seasoned cast iron)
Mix the flour into melted bacon grease with a whisk. It will look atrocious:
Cook over medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. (side note - those fingernails are gel paint and have lasted 2 weeks while gardening and building a new chicken tractor!)
Final note on the roux: if it burns - throw it out! There is no saving burnt roux!
Chicken and broth, veggies, okra and 2 - 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes (not drained). Add warm roux to warm soup and simmer 45 minutes. Add shrimp or crabmeat during the last 5 minutes if desired. That's it! Enjoy!