I recently raced through James Patterson's Jack and Jill, which was the first novel that I'd read starring Alex Cross - there are currently twenty five in the series! You can click through to read my review. It was a cracking, fast-paced crime novel but, as is often the case in this genre, there weren't a great deal of foodie mentions. I did find one though :
p399 "I'll help with the grub," George offered, which was rare. She wished that he could be like this more often and that it didn't take a national tragedy to get him in touch with his emotions. Well, a lot of men were like that, she knew. There were worse things in a marriage. They made a vegetarian gumbo together and opened a bottle of Chardonnay. They had barely finished supper in front of the TV when the front doorbell rang. It was a little before nine, and they weren't expecting anyone, but sometimes neighbours dropped in.
Unfortunately for George, it wasn't a neighbour and he'd be shot to death before he ever got to eat his gumbo ! Don't worry though George, I like the sound of it so I'll eat it for you !
I knew that gumbo was a typical dish from the American South and the name instantly brought to mind images of Louisiana, catfish and steamboats. I had an idea that it would be a bit like paella, with a Deep South twist, but I wasn't sure what exactly went into it. After investigating several recipes, I realised that you can put in pretty much whatever you like, but the traditional ingredients include the holy trinity of onion, celery and peppers, as well as prawns (or shrimp as the Americans call them), andouillette sausage and chicken. Many people add a tin of gumbo soup or use gumbo filé seasoning and create the traditional brown roux, as well as adding okra, which gives it a thicker texture. The gumbo in the book was a vegetarian one, and I checked out some recipes for that, including this one at Spicy Southern Kitchen. I fancied trying a meaty version though, using up some leftover prawns and roast chicken, as well as some smoky, spicy chorizo that was in the fridge. I couldn't get my hands on okra or filé spice, and I bypassed the whole process of making a roux, so this isn't an authentic gumbo recipe at all. It was very tasty though and gave a definite nod to the soul food flavours of the Deep South.
Gumbo-inspired one pot wonder
a drizzle of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
1 cup cooked prawns
1 cup leftover roast chicken
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tin red kidney beans
200g okra, thinly sliced (I left this out)
1tsp smoked paprika
Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions, garlic and peppers (and celery, if using) for five minutes.
Toss in the prawns.
Then add the chicken and chorizo. Oh wait a minute, what are those hot dog sausages doing in there?!
Pierre was helping out and he decided that, as there were already loads of different kinds of meat in there, adding his favourite to the mix wouldn't make much difference !
Pour in the tinned tomatoes. And the sliced okra, if using. (You may well need to add extra stock if using okra.)
I had half a can of red kidney beans in the fridge so I decided to throw those in there too.
Time to add the seasoning - some smoked paprika, salt and pepper should do it.
Pour in some cooked basmati rice - the microwavable pouches are ideal for this kind of dish.
Give it all a final stir and take the dish straight to the table so that everyone can dig in.
Adding to the #readcookeat linky over at Chez Maximka.
*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***
Fancy trying some other US-inspired dishes? How about :
This is the ultimate throw-it-all-in recipe so it's perfect for #KitchenClearout. I used up some cooked prawns and roast chicken, and also tossed in some leftover Moroccan chicken in a tomato/courgette sauce. Oh and half a can of red kidney beans. Whatever was in the fridge basically !