1: Cut each chicken breast into 4 even-sized pieces.
2: Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken thighs and breast pieces and sear for a few minutes until nicely browned. You may need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a large plate.
3: Return the pan to a medium heat, add the bacon and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the chicken.
4: Now add the sausage slices to the pan and allow them to colour and release their oil. Once browned, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, with the chicken and bacon.
5: Place the pan back over a low heat and add the ﬂour – there may be quite a lot of fat in the pan at this stage, but don’t worry. Cook, stirring constantly, for around 8–10 minutes to cook out the ﬂour and make a thick, smooth paste. Once the paste takes on a dark golden brown colour, add the cayenne pepper and smoked paprika and cook for a further minute.
6: Add the onion, peppers, celery and garlic to the pan. Stir, increase the heat and cook for a few minutes to soften the vegetables. Throw in the bay leaves and thyme.
7: Return the chicken pieces, bacon and sausage to the pan, along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate.
8: Pour in the chicken stock and tomato juice and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for around 1 hour until thickened, stirring from time to time. Remove the thyme.
9: Stir in the okra and cook gently for 8–10 minutes. Now add the prawns and cook for 2–3 minutes until they turn bright pink and are cooked through. Stir in the sliced spring onions and chopped parsley, heat through for a minute then season well with salt and pepper.
10: Ladle the gumbo into warmed bowls and serve either just as it is or with some steamed rice.