I love Cajun cooking. Love it. I miss living along the Gulf coast of Mississippi simply for the fact that I pine for the food terribly. Gumbo. Jamabalaya. Po’ Boys. Boiled Mud Bugs. Red beans and rice. Dirty rice. Crawfish Étouffée. Cornmeal Crusted Chicken. Savory Cajun Shrimp and Grits. Yummy. (Am I making you hungry, yet? I don’t apologize! Just getting your appetite whetted for the recipe below.) I remember all the little coloquialisms, too, for cooking. For example, instead of using cloves of garlic, you used “toes” of garlic. I visited this portion of the United States most often during the summer months, so I associate most of these foods with humidity, ice on the back of the neck, thunderstorms that seemed more like monsoons, pesky misquitoes, and cruising along Highway 90 with the windows wound down.
Mississippi is where I was introduced to Gumbo, which is a stew often associated with shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage, rice, and okra. I was always told that the difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya, aside from consistency where Gumbo is thicker, is that Jambalaya traditionally does not have okra in it. Which makes sense since Gumbo translates to okra. Down along the gulf coast, I tried okra for the first time, and learned how to make a nice, thick gumbo using this tasty little…pod. Fruit. Vegetable. Whatever. Technically, it is a fruit, but it’s treated in the kitchen as a vegetable.
Many people are familiar with creating a roux, and some people in the south won’t consider a gumbo GUMBO without a roux base. But when you’re gluten intolerant and on a grain-free diet, sometimes, you just don’t feel like using some of the alternatives (i.e. coconut flour) to make a roux because it changes up the taste just a bit too much. Or it doesn’t produce the right consistency. Etc, etc.
So here you go, y’all. How to use Okra as a thickener. The most important thing to remember is NOT to sautée the okra, no matter how much you’re tempted to. Don’t make a roux. In fact, don’t use filé powder either. Just the okra. That’s all you need. The gelatinous liquid in the pods is what thickens up the broth. Add the okra to your gumbo an hour before it’s finished cooking.
Now, if you’re not crazy about the “slime” in the okra, then I suggest still using okra, but adding ingredients to it so that the gumbo becomes more soupy rather than make a roux or use filé powder. The addition of acidity (tomatoes, apple cider vinegar) will cut down on the slime.
In the pictures, you’ll see that I made gumbo a little thinner than usual. After all, I err on the side of caution when it comes to inviting guests for dinner. I also used leftover chicken from our Lemon Pepper Thyme Cast-Iron Roasted Chicken as well as our Cajun Spice Blend for flavor. YUM.
- 1 lb. shredded cooked Chicken (we used leftovers of this recipe)
- 2 lbs. Andouille Sausage (This is the only kind you should be using!)
- 2 lbs. Okra, ends and tips removed, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
- 2-4 cups Chicken Broth (The less you use, the thicker it is)
- 2 ribs of Celery, diced
- 2 Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 medium-large Onion, diced
- 1 1/2 TBSP of our Cajun Spice Blend
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 6-8 "toes" of Garlic, minced
- 2 Carrots, diced (Optional)
- 1 14.5 oz. can of diced Tomatoes (Optional)
- 1 can Rotel Tomatoes (Optional)
- Slice up your andouille sausage. Brown in a skillet over medium heat. Add to the slow cooker.
- Chop and dice your bell peppers, celery, and onions. Sautée in the rendered sausage fat. When everything starts to brown, add to the slow cooker.
- Slice your carrots and shred your leftover chicken. Add to the crockpot. Add your diced tomatoes and rotel at this point if using.
- Add all of your spices, except for the bay leaves, and chicken broth. Then add your bay leaves.
- Cover and cook on High for 4 hours, or Low for 6 hours.
- 1 hour before your gumbo finishes, add your sliced okra.
- Serve and nosh!
Serve over cauliflower "rice", if desired.
© Julie Marie Pierpont and Death Defying Diet 2013-Present