WITH fried okra
If you have toasted flour left over from the Romanian chicken stew, you can use about
Toss the chicken with the thyme, several pinches of salt, and several grindings of pepper. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the chicken (work in batches if necessary) and cook, turning with a thin metal spatula, until the pieces are browned on one or two sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to the slow cooker.
To the skillet, add the onion and a little more oil, if needed, and cook over medium heat until just softened, about 3 minutes. Pour some of the tomato juices from the can into the hot skillet, scraping up any browned bits, then scrape into the cooker and add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hand as you do. Add the celery, ham, and bay leaf and put the bell pepper on top of everything. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Make a roux: In a large clean and dry skillet or sauté pan, combine the remaining
Using a slotted spoon, remove most of the solid ingredients (chicken, vegetables) from the gumbo to a bowl. Pour off the layer of excess oil that will have risen to the top of the roux, then use an immersion blender to blend the sludgy roux into the liquid in the cooker. Return the chicken and vegetables to the cooker, season with more salt and cayenne and/or Cajun seasoning, if needed, and serve with a small bowl of filé so people can add it to their gumbo if they’d like.
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