Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Got Leftover Turkey? Make a Gumbo!

One of the joys of the holidays is leftover turkey.  It's so delicious!  Somehow, it tastes even better the next day between two slices of bread.  How does it do that?  It's a mystery.  But, if you get tired of turkey sandwiches (heaven forbid!), then try making a gumbo.  If you're not from around here, you may be thinking "Gumbo?  How do I do that?"  Well, that's what I'm here to tell ya.  It's easy, but it takes time to do it right.  Sure, you could use a boxed mix.  But don't!  A real gumbo, made from scratch, is one of life's great pleasures.

If you really want to go authentic, you can make your own turkey broth.  If not, just use store bought chicken broth.  (If you have leftover chicken instead of turkey, that works fine, too!)

To make turkey broth:

Get a big pot.  Put some bones leftover from your turkey (strip the meat off first) into the pot.  Add an onion (cut into quarters), a large carrot (cut in half), a stalk of celery (cut in half) some fresh parsley (a great use for the stems) and some salt (not too much).
Fill with cold water till the water level is a few inches above the bones and veggies.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.  The longer you simmer, the better the broth.  Let it cool a bit, then pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer.  Voila!  Homemade turkey broth!  Put it in a big jar or zip bag and keep it in the fridge till you need it.


2 cups leftover cooked turkey (or chicken)
1/2 lb smoked sausage, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 small cloves garlic (or 1 big), minced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup canola oil
cajun seasoning
hot sauce, optional
4 cups homemade turkey broth or store bought chicken broth

The first thing I do is cut everything up.  I want the meat and veggies to be ready before I start making the roux.  If you don't know, a roux is a mixture of flour and fat used to thicken a sauce or stew.  There are various degrees of a roux.  You use a light roux in a basic white sauce.  If you've ever made homemade mac and cheese, you've made a roux.  But, a roux used in a gumbo has to be a deep caramel color.  This is what gives the gumbo it's signature flavor.  This can take a while and you can't walk away from it (don't go answer the phone!).  It has to be tended to, but it's so worth it.  Trust me.

Here's how to make the roux:  In a large pot over medium heat, add 1/2 cup oil and whisk in 1/2 cup flour.  Keep whisking until smooth.  Then, continue to whisk slowly.  This is how it will look to start:

Continue to cook this, whisking slowly, until it turns a deep, beautiful caramel color.  Like this:

This will take a while, about 25 - 30 minutes or so.  As some Cajuns say, "Long enough to drink a beer or two."

Once the roux is done, add the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and green onions.  Season with salt/pepper/cajun seasoning.  Cook for a few minutes to soften them a bit.

Add the sausage.  Stir.  Then, whisk in 4 cups broth.  Season again to taste.  Add hot sauce if you want more spice.  Bring it to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.

Then, add the turkey.  If you add it before, it will get stringy and gross.  The turkey is already cooked, you just need to heat it through.  So, once you add the turkey, just simmer for a few minutes.  Then, it's done!  Enjoy the fruits of your labor!  Serve the gumbo over rice.

I'm not going to pretend this isn't a lot of work.  But, great things take time.  So, pick a day when you've got the time and make some gumbo!  It's worth the effort, I guarantee!

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