Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turkey Gumbo - The Last of the Turkey

How was Thanksgiving?  Did you survive the yelling and screaming and throwing food?  I mean during the Cowboys v Redskins game, of course.  Nothing like watching football with native Texans and lifelong-Redskins fans, all in the same room, full on turkey and macaroni and cheese, hyped up on sweet potato pie and banana pudding.  

Days after the festivities and the family gathering, the last of the turkey salad packed in lunchboxes, now its time to finish off the leftovers with a Turkey Gumbo.  With respect to my Louisiana friends who may complain that my gumbo cooking is a bit unorthodox or that its not cold enough for gumbo yet, I will admit that I do take some license with ingredients sometimes, but I stay true to the basic principals - a roux, a broth, good, meaty ingredients, served with rice.  I borrow from a recipe I found in the Washington Post years ago and Emeril.

  • Turkey carcass
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Sausage - andouille, smoked sausage (your choice)
  • Ham
  • Shrimp
  • Onions
  • Green peppers
  • Celery
  • Broth
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, cayenne, Tabasco
I started this morning, just after I made my coffee, dropping the bones with some onions and celery into a pot of water to boil, then simmer, into a tasty stock.

In the meantime, I gather my other ingredients and start chopping and slicing.  Chop the vegetables.  Use all your leftover meats: turkey (pick it off the bone when the broth is done), ham, duck, chicken, pheasant, fish, whatever.  Chop/slice into bite size pieces.  If your meats are spare, of course, you can use fresh, uncooked meat.
Chop & slice everything to cook quickly and evenly.  Set aside while prepping roux.
Next, the roux - the crucial ingredient to a good gumbo.  Mix about equal parts vegetable oil or butter and flour, heating it in a large stock pot, stirring until a dark caramel color.  If you use butter, which tastes delicious, you've really got to watch and stir, as butter will burn quickly and then you'll have to start all over.  Yes, I know this from experience.

In separate bowls, season your chopped vegetables and prepared meats.  Sprinkle each with salt, pepper, cayenne to your liking.  As far as I'm concerned, the more cayenne, the better; I also might add a dash or two of Tabasco once it all got mixed together.  You can do this step while the roux is cooking, as long as you pay attention to your pot.  

When the roux is done and you've chopped everything, the hard part is over.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and continue.

Toss the vegetables in, let them cook a few minutes - keep stirring.  Bet - this is when someone else in your home will wander into the kitchen, sniffing the air, asking "what ya cookin'?"

Throw your meats in the pot.  Put any uncooked meats in first, let them cook, and then add any cooked (leftover) meats.  If you are using shrimp or a quick cooking fish, set that to the side to add later.  

Note for my pescatarian friends - you don't have to miss out.  Substitute fish, shrimp, crab meat, and a fish stock for a seafood version.  Yummy!

Let the meat cook through, then pour the stock (now drained of bones and meat) into this pot.  Season again to taste.  Then just let it simmer for a while, maybe 45 minutes to an hour.  Stir occasionally, then go read a book.

At some point, start a pot of rice.

Let simmer - your house will smell like a New Orleans dining room. 
After a couple chapters of your book, come back and add the shrimp.  Stir, go read another chapter.

When you are done that chapter, your gumbo should be ready.  Pour over a hot bowl of rice, garnish with chopped green onions, if you like, and serve.  Don't forget another glass of wine.


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