Recipe Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo

Every site has recipes for leftover turkey. This one for turkey gumbo optimizes the entire carcass. I started the tradition back in the mid-1990s when I developed a deep, abiding love for all things cajun and creole following a series of trips to New Orleans. This recipe looks long, but once you’ve got all the prep done, it’s done in an hour or so. Any kind of sausage will work with this, but something with some spicy bite is my favorite.

True gumbo uses a dark roux that smells of lightly roasted coffee. Many purists insist it has to be made on the stove, but that can take an hour or more of careful attention, so I opt for the oven variety. Roux can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for a month, but take care with its preparation; if it has many black specks, it’s ruined and you need to start over. Also, hot roux is known as “Cajun napalm” for the nasty burns it can cause, so be careful. Also, always use gloves when handling hot chilies; they can burn and irritate eyes and skin. For a deeper flavor, roast the turkey carcass in a 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes until it browns.

1 cup (250 ml) olive oil
1 ½ cup (375 ml) all purpose flour

Turkey stock
Big turkey carcass, picked clean, meat reserved
1 carrot, quartered
1 large onion, skin intact, quartered
2 stalks celery, chopped
Couple garlic cloves
A bay leave, bunch of thyme leaves, parley stems
For the gumbo
¾ pound raw shrimp, shells reserved
3 quarts brown chicken or turkey stock
Couple tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped, about 3 cups
4 ribs of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1 pound (500 grams) cooked chicken or turkey, cut bite-sized
1 ½ pounds (750 grams) cooked andouille sausage, sliced
1 28-oz. can peeled, seeded tomatoes
2 Habernero or jalapeno peppers, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
couple of bay leaves
3/4 pound (375 grams) okra, thawed if frozen
two fistfuls of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon gumbo Filé
1 to 2 lemons, juiced
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce, to taste
Hot cooked white or brown rice

Preheat oven to 315°F / 160°C degrees. For the roux, combine olive oil and flour in an ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the roux is light brown with a nutty smell. Put into the oven and let cook undisturbed for the first hour. Then carefully stir every half hour afterward until it’s a dark, almost chocolate brown. This will take from 3 to 5 hours. Set aside and let cool.

While you make the roux, prep some stock by placing the carcass in four quarts of water with the vegetables. Bring just to a boil, then simmer for three or four hours until the roux is ready. Drain, reserving stock.
To start the gumbo, combine the shrimp shells with the stock and simmer while prep everything. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an 8- to 12-quart pot. Cook the onions over medium heat until transluscent, then add the celery, carrots and green pepper. When the vegetables soften, add the chicken, sausage, tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic and thyme. Strain the stock and add. Stir in one-third of the roux until it’s absorbed in the liquid. Keep adding roux a tablespoon at a time until the gumbo reaches the desired thickness. Bring to a simmer and add the okra, parsley and shrimp and filé. Cook until the shrimp are bright pink and the gumbo thickens. Finally, stir in the lemon juice, recheck seasonings and serve over hot rice. Makes a big pot with about 10 or so servings.

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