“A real melting pot of flavours, this delicious stew from the Deep South has African, French and Spanish influences. I’ve nicknamed it Essex gumbo, as this is my take on the classic – it's hearty, indulgent and a real flavour extravaganza. ”
To make the stock, put the chicken carcass into a large pan with a splash of olive oil, then place on a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until browned.
Peel the prawns, adding the heads and shells to the pan. Add the cayenne and stock, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, thickly slice the chorizo. Peel the onion and celery, deseed the peppers, then roughly chop. Peel the garlic, then finely slice with the chillies. Scrub the sweet potatoes and chop into 3cm chunks.
Place a large pan on a medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the chorizo, rosemary and thyme sprigs, and 2 bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes, or until browned, then remove everything to a plate.
Generously season the chicken with sea salt and black pepper, then place in the pan, skin side down. Turn the heat up to high and cook for 10 minutes, or until browned, turning occasionally. Remove to a plate.
Add the chopped onion, celery, peppers, garlic and chillies to the pan with the cayenne and the remaining 2 bay leaves. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, or until softened.
Stir in the flour to coat, then sieve in 2 ladlefuls of the stock. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pan, along with the sweet potatoes and the 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.
Finely slice the Scotch bonnets (blanch them first in boiling water to reduce the heat, if you like). Bash the bay in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt, discarding the stalks. Muddle in a good lug of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Stir in the chopped chillies and set aside.
Slice the okra and add to the gumbo pan for a further 10 minutes. Gently fold in the crabmeat and prawns for a final 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Season to perfection.
Finely chop and scatter over the parsley, then serve with the pickled chillies. Good with brown rice and green salad.