… so it’s currently summer here in the UK and when I say summer I mean a couple of hours of sunshine per day followed by 8 hours of overcast humidity, followed by sweltering heat, followed by rain and cold. Annoyingly when it’s been hot this week in London it’s not a hot sunny heat but that overcast, muggy, humidity that is my least favourite warmth… in the big city, the only way to get out of it is to find the nearest shopping mall which is probably the most depressing sentence i’ve ever written. London is so funny in the heat. It can be quite oppressing one minute and the next all you want to do it find the nearest roof top and drink wine as the world whizzes past below. Every pub is gloriously empty whilst all the punters crowd into a roughly 1 ft square patch of ground outside and follow the sun as it dodges the buildings across the tarmac… and it seems the streets are suddenly filled with people who were never there before as though these anti-vampiric creatures only ever come into town when the weather is exactly sunny and warm, you can tell who they are because if there’s suddenly a sudden downpour they stand in the street screaming in horror not knowing what to do, as though their skin is burning. I’m just counting the days till the summer is over and they all crawl back into the suburbs and leave me alone…
chicken thigh and shrimp gumbo
i’m no Southern Food expert but this spicy cajun stew is really rather special. It packs a punch in the heat department but now we’re approaching warmer months a little spicy heat is a great way to cool the body down. I’ve gone for an ‘all-in-one’ method so it’s just like a one-pot stew and makes the cooking process so much easier. The whole dish spent quite some time in the oven, slowly bubbling away so that by the time I was ready to eat, the chicken fell neatly off the bone – so much so that I decided to remove the bones entirely and shred the lot before serving which of course made the whole dish so much less fiddly to eat. I still have a pack of Cajun Spice Blend that lovely Kirsten from My Kitchen in the Rockies sent me a couple of years ago. It’s getting a little low in the bag now and I use it very sparingly but when needs must I pull it out use a couple of teaspoons but in all honesty it’s a pretty simple spice mix, the ingredients of which I have listed below…
2 chicken thighs
2 chicken legs
one medium white onion – roughly chopped
2 stalks of celery – chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds – crushed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds – crushed
1 teaspoon cayenne
one green pepper – roughly chopped
one medium carrot – roughly chopped
a handful of green beans
440ml tin of chopped tomatoes
440ml chicken stock
olive oil and seasoning
pre-heat the oven to 130C
gently heat a casserole dish and add a little olive oil, then throw in the onions and celery and let them sweat for 5 mins before adding your cajun spice mix or the dried spices and herbs – stir them around and let them sweat with the onions for a while adding intensity and heat.
add the carrots, green beans and peppers and stir and let the vegetables soften for a further 5 mins, then pour in the tinned tomatoes, add a teaspoon of stock powder to the tomato tin, fill with water and add this to the pot too.
stir in the king prawns and lay the chicken on top – pop the lid on and place the whole thing in the oven to cook gently for 1 and a half hours, then remove the lid, turn the heat up to 180C and cook for a further 30 mins
remove the dish from the oven and let it cool slightly before gently removing the chicken pieces and slipping the bones out and shredding. Stir the chicken pieces back into the gumbo before serving.
eat and of course, enjoy!