Monthly Archives: December 2012

Somebody changed the lock: Vegetarian gumbo

A few weeks ago Australia stood still and watched horses race. And the majority of people of a legal drinking age put on their glad rags and went to lay down their bets. I took a different approach to my 4 day weekend, staying up far too late most nights and knocking back a few beers, but avoiding TABs, TVs and fascinators altogether. Instead of ‘The race that stops a nation’ I attended ‘The race that stops a street’; an annual billycart event on a dodgy back street in Northcote where the first words you hear are “We obviously don’t have insurance” and the action gives a whole new meaning to the word derby.The day before this it was hot. Really hot, at least 28 degrees. Well, hot for a South Islander. However, the phrase ‘If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen’ was lost on me and I instead took this opportunity to cook up a proper meal for the first time in quite a while. I found the best way to counteract the heat was to wear the least clothes possible (sorry neighbours). Thankfully my flatmate was out for the day so this involved logging some serious kitchen hours barefoot in a bra and short shorts. Don’t worry this is not about to become an x rated blog, and will probably never be held up as a model of health and safety compliance, however you do what you gotta do and the results were well worth it

Vegetarian gumbo (adapted from http://www.recipesource.com/main-dishes/seafood/gumbo1.html)
2 litres beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp chilli flakes
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup plain flour
2 cups okra, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, minced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 400g can of whole tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp chili sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 kumara, chopped into smallish chunks
rice, enough for however many people you are feeding

-Bring the stock, bay leaves, chilli flakes and salt to the boil in the largest pot you can find. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for one hour (don’t get complacent, this will just give you time to prep for everything else)
-Make the roux: heat butter in a separate pan over a medium-low heat until melted, add and stir in the flour until absorbed. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly until the roux is dark brown and smells nutty, this should be about 25 minutes
-Heat 3 Tbsp vegetable oil in another large pan and saute okra, celery, carrot, onions, green pepper and garlic for 10 minutes until just tender. Add the canned tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes
-Add the roux and vegetables to the stock along with the salt, tomato sauce, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Reduce heat to the lowest it will go, cover and simmer for 1 hour
-Add kumara and cook for however long it takes for it to become tender, probably about 15 mins depending on how small the chunks are, if you think it will take longer, add in earlier while the gumbo is simmering
-Cook the rice and serve with the gumbo

A few notes
Find okra if you can. I’ve never had gumbo before and even though it sounds strange, I can’t believe it would be even half as good without the unusual texture that this notoriously slimy vegetable brings.

Gumbo is usually crammed with chicken, shrimp and sausage but I felt like a vegetarian meal and had a kumara on hand and I have to say it worked out pretty well so don’t be afraid to experiment.

One last note on experimenting, I have never made or eaten gumbo before so cannot be trusted as an authority on what is good or bad gumbo but this tasted pretty awesome and I improvised a lot of ingredients and steps so once again this is definitely something I would recommend if you feel confident doing so!

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