Saturday, November 2, 2013

Smokin' Chickpea Gumbo

A while back, my book club read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and we had a theme of "Southern cooking" for the pot luck. Not being a southerner in a Northeast Florida book club, I was shaking in my boots about what to make. How could I be authentic (and vegan) and not walk away like this:

Well, long story short, I looked to my vegan heroes, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's Post-Punk Kitchen  and Veganomicon. I found 2 delightful gumbo recipes (Okra Gumbo with Chickpeas and Kidney Beans and Smoky Red Peppers 'n' Beans Gumbo) that sounded great, but which one to make? I loved the idea of using chickpeas to add a heartiness to the dish, but that smoky flavor was too good to pass up, too. I agonized for days while the book club date got closer and closer. Finally, the day before, I decided I would make both...well, one dish that combined the best elements from both recipes. The result was a hit! Poor Denise has been dogging me for the recipe for months and I couldn't tell her I had actually forgotten which recipes I used. So this afternoon, I finally pulled it together and figured it out.

Tonight I made the gumbo using the 2 recipes, but I paid a little more attention to what I was doing. I made a few adjustments - less tomatoes since DC isn't too keen on really tomato-y stuff. I used half the amount I had originally planned on using and it worked out great. The amount listed below is the amount I used. I used a little less green pepper this time and I think last time I must have added some Cajun seasoning which I've left out here. Feel free to add in a 1 teaspoon to The Spices.

We ate this tonight with short grain brown rice and The Best Damn Vegan Biscuits I pinned the other day. It makes a LOT so get ready for some great left overs!  Let me know how you like it.

Smokin' Chickpea Gumbo

The Roux
3 tablespoons oil or vegan margarine. This recipe has less fat than a traditional roux. Add more oil (about 3 Tbsp) if you want a more traditional roux
1/4 cup flour

The Holy Trinity
1 large-sized onion, diced
1 green bell red peppers, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced thin

The Spices
5 cloves garlic, minced 
2 bay leaves 
2 tsp. smoked paprika 
1 tsp. dried thyme  
2 tsp. oregano 
¼ tsp. allspice  
a grind or two of freshly ground nutmeg (or a pinch) 
pinch of cayenne (or more if you like your gumbo hot)
2 tsp. salt
fresh black pepper

The Liquids
1 cup chopped tomatoes or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable broth at room temperature

1 cup ale-style beer
½ tsp liquid smoke

The Veggies
2 cups okra, sliced (or use a 10-ounce package of frozen pre-sliced okra)
1 1/2 cups cooked red or kidney beans (a 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 cup cooked chick peas (a 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)

The Garnish
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly cooked white or brown rice
Hot sauce

Making the roux
First make The Roux: Preheat a wide, heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat. Add the oil and sprinkle in the flour. Use a wooden spatula to toss the flour in the oil and stir constantly for 10 to 14 minutes, until the flour is carmel colored and smells toasty. Don't let it burn! If it burns, start over. No joke, start over.

Add The Holy Trinity and toss to coat the vegetables completely in the flour mixture. As the vegetables release moisture, they will coat more and more. Cook it this way, stirring often until the vegetables are soft. Add The Spices and stir for a minute or so until everything starts to smell wonderful.

The Holy Trinity and the roux

Next, add the tomatoes and cook them down for about 10 more minutes. As the tomatoes break down, the mixture should become thick and pasty. Then add the rest of The Liquids (add the broth very slowly and stir while you're adding it) and then The Veggies and turn the heat up and cover to bring to a boil. Stir occasionally.

Red beans and chickpeas
Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until the stew is nicely thickened and the okra is tender. If it’s too thick, thin it with some vegetable broth. If it’s not as thick as you like, just cook it a little longer.

Right before serving, add the lemon juice and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve in a big, wide bowl, topped with a scoop of rice and some Frank's.
Just before it simmers

I used NewCastle Werewolf Ale tonight. 
BYOH(eat) with Frank's Red Hot sauce
(or Tabasco if you must)

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