The summer vacation is now starting to weigh heavy on all us parents. Let’s face it, as much as we love having our kids around, trying to keep working, getting them ferried around to their various venues of entertainment and cooking many more meals than usual is tiring. This is when the “meal in a pot” comes in handy. Even if it’s not always child friendly, it means you can make something delish for the grownups in no time, and throw a schnitzel in the oven for the young ‘uns on those days where you’ve just run out of steam.
This gumbo is one of my husband’s great “one pot” finds. Living in Israel exposed me to the joys of okra, or bamia as it’s known here, which is a main ingredient. While I am a huge proponent of “fresh, fresh, fresh”, this is one of those veggies that is a bit of a pain in the rear end to deal with fresh, and the frozen version is just wonderful and super easy to use. This also ties in with the “easy meals for summer” concept. So use the frozen version and make your life easy. This is a recipe from the local chef and author Gil Hovav, who has made it his life’s work to eat his way through the back alley restaurants of Israel in his search for really authentic local cuisine. Try this out and taste one of the gems he’s discovered.
CHICKEN GUMBO WITH OKRA
6 skinless chicken thighs cut into the thighs and legs (it’s important to have them skinless)
Black pepper and salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
500 g (1 lb) okra – if they’re small, leave them whole otherwise cut into bite sized chunks
2 medium sized onions chopped
4-5 garlic cloves crushed
1 red or green pepper chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 large ripe peeled tomatoes chopped
2 cups of chicken broth
1 teaspoon spicy paprika or 1 teaspoon paprika + ½ a teaspoon cayenne pepper
500 g (1 lb) chopped spicy chorizo or cabanos sausage (small bite sizes)
How to do it
1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and seal them in 2 tablespoons of the oil that you’ve heated in a large pot, Remove the chicken and saute the onion until it’s transparent. Then add the garlic and saute for another minute making sure it doesn’t burn.
2. Add the pepper, celery, okra and paprika (and cayenne pepper if using) and stir over a medium heat for about 3 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and continue to stir every now and again for about 25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile in a small pot, (I know it’s another pot, but it’s small), mix together the remaining oil with the flour, cook over a low flame, stirring, until the mixture takes on a light brown color – do no burn.
5. Add a little of the chicken stock – about a ¼ cup – to the flour mixture, mix and then mix it in to the pot with the vegetables. Add the rest of the stock and the chicken pieces and bring to the boil, reduce the flame to low, cover and simmer for about an hour. If the liquid starts to disappear,, add a little more water to the pot to get a stew consistency.
6. After it’s been cooking for an hour, add the pieces of sausage, cover and simmer for a further 30-40 minutes on low heat.
Serve on rice.
Serves about 8 people.