GUMBO, RED PEPPERS 'N' BEANS
Welcome to Michael's by Michael McCarty
Thick but not too thick, a stick-to-your-ribs veggie gumbo has a hint of smokiness from juicy, roasted red peppers. And a little help from the magic of liquid smoke (and it's vegan, like a dream come true, so relax!). Traditionally, gumbos are served with a scoop of white rice in the middle.
Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Smoky Red Peppers 'N' Beans Gumbo
• 1/3 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 medium-size onions, cut into small dice
• 2 green bell peppers, cut into small dice
• 1 stalk celery, sliced very thinly
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 (10-ounce) package frozen okra, slightly thawed and sliced thinly
• 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice, preferably fire-roasted tomatoes
• 3 roasted red peppers, jarred or homemade, chopped into fine dice
• 1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• 1 cup ale-style beer
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 teaspoons oregano
• 1/4 teaspoon allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
• Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
• 2 bay leaves
• 4-5 sprigs of thyme
• Pinch of cayenne
• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
First we're going to make a roux: Preheat a large heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Place the margarine in the pot and stir until melted. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to dissolve it. Cook the flour mixture, stirring frequently, until it is a rich caramel color and smells toasty, anywhere from 10 to 14 minutes.
Add the chopped onions and peppers to the roux mixture, stirring to coat completely. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the vegetables are very soft, at least 12 minutes.
Add the celery, garlic, and okra, and cook for another 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, roasted red peppers, kidney beans, and vegetable broth. Whisk together the beer and tomato paste and add that to the mixture, stirring to incorporate completely. Stir in the allspice, liquid smoke, and grated nutmeg, and lastly, tuck in the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then lower the heat back to medium and partially cover. Allow the mixture to simmer 35 for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the okra is very tender. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving, then season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
TIPS: Frozen okra makes this recipe a breeze; it slices up easily with little mess. If you've never used it before, you'll be blown away by that perfect rectangle of frozen okra, or at least marginally amused. Of course, sliced fresh okra (1/2 to 3/4 pound) may be used instead.