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Chicken & Okra Gumbo by Melissa M. Martin

Updated: Dec 10, 2022

I always wanted to try and make some gumbo. But I was afraid of screwing it up. Maybe perhaps there are loads of different variations of gumbo online and I do not know which is more authentic than the other. And this awesome cookbook has some pretty decent gumbo (just by reading, lol!).

This gumbo has no oil-based roux (which I prefer). Instead, it uses smothered okra as some sorta "thickener". Yes, I know that it takes hours upon hours of cooking okra to break it all down to a gooey texture. But I promised that this is worth it.

I changed quite a number of things. I did not use a whole chicken (as I dislike bones with my meat); I used chicken thigh and breast. I also prepared the stock differently. And lastly, I seared the chicken in the pot 1st to get those goody brown bits.

You can prepare the smothered okra, chicken stock and mise en place the day before. Everything will be smooth sailing on cooking day. That's what grandmas always do right? That's perhaps one of the many reasons why their food is so good. That... and a whole lotta love.



(Serve 4)

  • Smothered Okra:

  • Grapeseed / Sunflower / Canola / Peanut Oil, 3 TBSP

  • Okra Stems & Ends Removed Coarsely Sliced, 450g

  • Tomato Peeled Canned, 1

  • Chicken Stock:

  • Chicken Carcasses, 4

  • Milk Powder, 2 TBSP

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Gumbo:

  • Green Bell Peppers, 2

  • Grapeseed / Sunflower / Canola / Peanut Oil, 3 TBSP

  • Chicken Thigh Boneless (Preferably with Skins), 2

  • Chicken Breast Boneless Skinless, 2

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • White Pepper, Pinch

  • Cayenne, Pinch

  • Hot Sauce, For Marinating

  • Yellow Onions Finely Sliced, 2

  • Granulated Sugar, Pinch

  • Leeks Coarsely Sliced, 2

  • Garlic Finely Minced, 3 Cloves

  • Bay Leaf, 1

  • Filé Powder, Pinch



  • Oven

  • Sauce Pot

  • Heavy Sauce Pot

  • Large Baking Dish



  1. Prepare the smothered okra.

  2. In a sauce pot over medium heat, add oil.

  3. Once the oil is heated up, add in the okra.

  4. Saute and turn the heat to the lowest setting.

  5. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 hrs.

  6. *The timing varies for different types and sizes of pots. Unlid, and saute every 10 mins to prevent burning. If the okra gets too dry and sticky, add a splash of hot water and deglaze.*

  7. Once the okra has broken down to an ugly dark greenish mud, it is done.

  8. Hand crush the tomato and add it to the okra.

  9. Saute until well combined.

  10. Cover and cook for a further 1/2 to 1 hr.

  11. *Unlid and saute every 10 mins.*

  12. The okra will break down even further and this time, the seeds should be tainted red in color and the concoction looks like wet mud.

  13. It is totally fine if there are some burnt bits.

  14. Remove from heat and set aside.

  15. Prepare the chicken stock.

  16. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius or 400 fahrenheit.

  17. Transfer chicken carcasses into a baking dish.

  18. Sprinkle milk powder and salt over the top.

  19. Mix to coat well.

  20. Wack into the oven and bake for 40 to 50 mins or until the bones are browned.

  21. Flip and rotate half way thru'.

  22. Deglaze the baking dish with a splash of hot water.

  23. *If your baking dish is stovetop proof, you can add 1.5L of water to the chicken carcasses. If not, transfer the chicken carcasses into a pot of 1.5L of water, along with the deglazed liquid.*

  24. As usual, I like to add vegetable scraps to further enhance the flavors of the stock.

  25. Stir to combine well and bring it up to a simmer.

  26. Simmer for 5 to 8 mins.

  27. Remove from heat, cover and set aside to infuse for 10 mins.

  28. After 10 mins, drain and discard all the residue.

  29. Prepare the gumbo.

  30. Deseed and quarter the bell peppers.

  31. Broil in the oven until charred.

  32. Remove from the oven, cover and set aside to steam for 30 mins.

  33. After 30 mins, peel off the charred skins and coarsely slice the peppers.

  34. Set aside.

  35. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, cayenne and hot sauce.

  36. Coat the chicken well.

  37. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 30 mins to 1 hr.

  38. In a heavy sauce pot over medium heat, add oil.

  39. Once the oil is heated up, sear the chicken thigh skin side down until crispy brown.

  40. Flip and sear the other side as well.

  41. Repeat the steps for the breast too.

  42. Remove from heat and set aside to rest.

  43. In the same pot, add onions.

  44. Add a splash of that stock to deglaze.

  45. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.

  46. Saute until the onions are caramelized.

  47. *If it gets too dry, deglaze with a splash of that stock.*

  48. Add in garlic, leeks, smothered okra, roasted bell peppers and bay leaf.

  49. Saute until well combined.

  50. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover.

  51. Cook for about 5 mins.

  52. Deglaze with a splash of that stock.

  53. Add in the chicken and all the juices.

  54. *You can coarsely dice the chicken if desired.*

  55. Followed by all the stock.

  56. Stir to combine well.

  57. Bring it up to a simmer and turn the heat down to low.

  58. Cover and cook for 1.5 hrs.

  59. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

  60. After 1.5 hrs, final taste and adjust for seasonings with salt, pepper, cayenne, hot sauce and some filé powder.

  61. The chicken should break apart easily.

  62. Turn off the heat and keep it covered for 1 hr.

  63. *Do not be tempted to unlid and have a peek.*

  64. After 1 hr, unlid and garnish with parsley and scallions.

  65. Serve immediately with some cooked rice if desired.


Mama Mia...


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