Prickly Pear Gumbo
For this recipe, I decided to use the natural sliminess of prickly pear cacti, also known as nopales, to my advantage. It occurred to me that I could substitute them for another vegetable known for its mucilage, okra. Like okra in traditional recipes, the nopales actually thicken this gumbo.
I'm convinced that this is the dish that could convert the masses into prickly pear lovers. Serve it with a scoop of rice on top (not underneath!!!).
Prickly Pear Gumbo1/4 c. lard
1/4 c. sorghum flour (or substitute regular flour)
1 c. diced onion
1/2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. diced green pepper
2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. dried Monarda fistulosa (or substitute oregano)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. water or broth
1 c. diced nopales
1/2 lb. crayfish tails (or substitute shrimp or chicken)
1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt the lard over medium heat.
2. Add the flour, and stir continuously until the mixture is the color of peanut butter, at least five minutes.
3. All at once, add onion, celery, green pepper, and spices to the pot, and cook until the vegetables are softened, another five minutes.
4. Add the water, stir, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Add the diced nopales, stir, and let them cook for 10 minutes.
6. Finally, add in the crayfish tails and stir. Only keep the gumbo on the heat until the the crayfish tails have turned red and cooked through, no longer than 5 minutes.