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Houma Chicken File Gumbo

1 Chicken cut into serving pieces
Salt and ground pepper
1/2 c Vegetable oil
2 lg Onions, chopped (2 cups)
1 Green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1 qt Water
1 1/2 ts File powder
Louisiana hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)


Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and reserve. Heat oil in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper. Cook, stirring for 10 to 12 minutes, until well browned. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of oil from pan and add chicken pieces. Brown chicken well on both sides, 12 to 15 minutes. If pan juices begin to stick and burn, add a few drops of water and stir and scrape with a spatula to loosen them. When chicken is browned, add remaining water. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until chicken is tender and cooked through. Stir in file powder, remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce if desired. Serve gumbo with rice.



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