“This delicious stew from the Deep South is a real melting pot, with African, French and Spanish influences. Dotted with spicy chorizo, tender chicken, crab, prawns and sweet potatoes, this is hearty, indulgent and a real flavour extravaganza. ”
To make a delicious stock, start by jointing the chicken so you end up with 8 pieces: 2 legs, 2 wings, 2 breasts, 2 thighs and the carcass.
Place the carcass into a large pan, then cook over a medium heat with a splash of olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until browned and smelling good.
Peel the prawns, then place the heads and shells into the pan. Add the cayenne and stock, and bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.
Thickly slice the chorizo. Peel and roughly chop the onion, deseed and roughly chop the peppers, then trim and roughly chop the celery. Peel and finely slice the garlic, then slice the chillies. Scrub and chop the sweet potatoes into 3cm chunks.
Add a lug of olive oil to a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the chorizo, rosemary and thyme sprigs, and 2 bay leaves. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned, then remove everything to a plate.
Season the chicken pieces generously with sea salt and black pepper, then add to the pan, skin-side down, with a lug of olive oil. Cook over a high heat for 10 minutes, or until browned all over, turning occasionally. Remove to a plate.
In the remaining fat, add the chopped onion, pepper, celery, garlic, chilli, cayenne and remaining 2 bay leaves. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened and golden.
Stir in the flour to coat. Sieve in 2 ladlefuls of the stock, then add the browned chicken, chorizo, chopped sweet potatoes and plum tomatoes.
Bring to the boil, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
Finely slice the Scotch bonnets (blanch them first in boiling water to reduce the heat, if you like). Bash the bay leaves in a pestle and mortar, then muddle in a good lug of extra virgin olive oil, the vinegar and 1 pinch of salt. Stir in the chopped chillies and set aside to let the flavours develop.
Slice the okra at an angle and add to the gumbo for a further 10 minutes. Gently fold in the crabmeat and prawns, then cook for a final 5 minutes, or until cooked. Season to taste.
Finely chop and scatter over the parsley leaves, then serve with the pickled chillies, brown rice and a fresh green salad.