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Folks, I wait all year for this one. Sometimes I have to cook a turkey, or breast mostly (like my last recipe for moist and tender breast), just so I will be able to make this bodacious recipe. Many of you I will bet, if I were the betting type, will toss the carcass away after the finished carving. Shame on you. Have you not noticed how much meat is actually left on the bones and on the carving plate? Well, maybe not mine but what I'm saying is if you do not use the carcass in achieving a fine robust, flavorful stock, well, to me that's a sin.
Now if you have made turkey gumbo, good for you. But for most folks, staring at a carved, naked carcass wondering what to do with it, gumbo is an afterthought. To many of us it is the highlighted reason in cooking the bird. And whatever you do, do not discard any leftover dressing (Southern stuffing in a pan) as this is in my opinion the best pairing for this type of gumbo. We use the dressing instead of rice. Folks in other parts of the south, mostly Louisiana, serve their gumbo with potato salad made many times with Cajun mayonnaise. But it really don't matter what you serve your turkey gumbo with as long as you do, serve it that is. And make it from your saved turkey carcass for an incredible, rich taste.
You see, there are many recipes for turkey gumbo but I like the way we do it around these parts. Here in lower Alabama, we prefer one rich in the traditional ingredients of using the holy trinity stirred into a dark roux and adding smoked sausage, the rich turkey stock plus the addition of sweet Creole or small tomatoes and the tasty thickener okra. The complexity of taste from these ingredients is a gumbo like no other.
Turkey Bone Gumbo
|turkey gumbo over dressing|
1 cooked turkey carcass after removing meat
2 medium yellow onions, quartered
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 4" sections
4 stalks celery, cut in 4" sections
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried crushed thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 gallon water or enough to cover carcass
for the gumbo:
1 cup vegetable oil or lard
1 1/4 cups browned flour (see below) or all-purpose flour
2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 pound Conecuh or other smoked sausage, diced into 1/4-inch cubes and rendered of fat
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, divided
3 garlic toes, minced
6 cups turkey stock
Reserved turkey meat from making stock
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
6 Creole tomatoes, peeled, seeded if desired (or 1 -14.5 oz can Roma, diced)
2 cups chopped fresh okra (or 1 -16 oz bag frozen)
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black peppercorns to taste
3 cups chopped leftover turkey meat (or cooked chicken)
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
filé powder if desired
|start with turkey breast bones for stock|
If need be, cut or break carcass into pieces will fit in a large stock pot and add the carcass to the pot. Add vegetables, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and water. Place pot over high heat and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about two hours. Occasionally, skim off any foam that forms on the surface.
Drain stock through a mesh colander, reserving liquid. When solids are cool to the touch, sort through and reserve any turkey meat that has fallen off the bones. Pick any turkey meat that remains on the bones too. Set meat aside for gumbo. Discard the carcass and solids.
Mix the holy trinity (onions, bell pepper, celery) together in a bowl, set aside.
In a large, heavy skillet (I like cast iron) heat oil over medium-high heat . Whisk in the flour and stir constantly with a whisk until roux turns a medium brown. If using browned flour, it will be light brown instantly. Use a flat paddle or wooden spoon to continue stirring the roux until it turns a medium to dark chocolate brown. You might have to turn the heat down a bit toward the end. Keep the roux moving scrapping from the bottom especially toward the end when the darker coloration is forming. Be careful not to burn the roux, it should take about 20-30 minutes to reach the desired color. If the roux starts smoking, remove skillet from heat stirring all while until it settles back down. Reduce heat and continue to cook. If the flour and oil separates, you have ruined your roux. It should be smooth when finished.
Once roux has reached desired shade, carefully stir in the rendered smoked sausage stirring for 1 minute. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning, a little over half of the holy trinity and the garlic. Stir about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Move roux mixture to a large stockpot and return to medium high heat.
Add the stock and stir in the remaining Cajun seasoning to the stockpot. Add bay leaves, Worcestershire, lemon juice, tomatoes, and okra. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low simmer and for 2 hours stirring occasionally. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
About 30 minutes before ready to serve, add salt and pepper if needed along with the turkey and parsley. Allow gumbo to come back to a simmer.
Serve over southern cornbread dressing or oyster dressing, white rice, or with potato salad if desired. Sprinkle with file powder if desired and garnish with the green onions. Be sure to serve with hot, crusty French bread and cold beer.
|Browned Flour oven method|
|medium brown roux|
|browned flour roux|