When Thanksgiving's just past and everyone has gone home, you're left with what some might consider leftover hell. Some eighteen pounds of the massive turkey that you and your family tried valiantly to eat on Thanksgiving Day is still left and there is no way you can stomach that many turkey sandwiches.
Some would say throw it to the dog, like my great uncle - “Never seen a dog that couldn’t eat a turkey carcass.” Thanks, Uncle Roy. But don’t feed your dog the leftover turkey - for at least two reasons: (1) if the dog is not used to eating those small hollow bird bones, and it will most likely kill the thing, and (2) The meat and bones are a wonderful base for a fine gumbo.
Of course, you can still save the white meat for sandwiches and the revisited thanksgiving dinner. This recipe uses all that hard-to-get meat, the stuff stuck to the bones. Gumbo is a an American tradition, especially in Louisiana, but you don’t have to be from there to eat like a Cajun. Pretty soon you will all be saying: J’adore me gumbo (I love gumbo).
This gumbo recipe is called Three Time Gumbo, but it can be made in a day - a long day, but still one day. It's called Three Time because it freezes really, really well. So well, in fact, that when a batch was entered into a local contest it won. The next year the winners decided to enter more of the same batch - why risk a bad batch? It won then too, and then again the next year. Hence, three time prize-winning gumbo. We will have to go freezer-diving to see if it can make Four Time but we're content with three for now.
Three Time Gumbo
The Dallas Cowboys or the Detroit Lions are on TV. All the relatives have headed for home. You've put away the desserts. All the sliced turkey and cranberry sauce is in the fridge. But there lays the turkey bones and a bunch of meat on them. What do you do? That turkey was pretty awesome. I'm not going to throw it out.
I think ahead. There's a gumbo contest coming up next fall. There's room in the freezer. What do you do? Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo.
Thursday, late afternoon (Thanksgiving Day)
Six seconds after Kirstie Alley showed up
- 1 Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey (Bones, Juice, Skin, Everything that you haven't carved)
- 1 Root end from a bunch of celery, what you have left when you cut off the bottom 2-3 inches, quartered (or an equivalent amount of leaves, ends, trimmings, etc.)
- 2 onions, Quartered and just rinsed, skin and all
- The bottom ends of a bunch of parsley, if you've got it. A tablespoon of dried parsley if you don't.
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
1. Cover carcass with water in the biggest stock pot you can find. Simmer about an hour, or until halftime of the football game. Pull out any pieces of the turkey that may render any meat using a slotted spoon. Rest until cool enough to handle. Pull any meat, roughly chop, and refrigerate.
2. Throw everything else back into the stock and simmer through the rest of the football game, at least three hours. Strain the stock, throw away the vegetables, skin and bones. Refrigerate the stock.
The quickest way to lose faith in humanity
You're so sick of Thanksgiving food, cooking, and everything else. Go back to work for the day and don't think about any of this stuff. Should you have any inspiration, you can start shopping for your Saturday gumbo cooking extravaganza, just try and avoid malls, boutiques, and for goodness sakes don’t go near Wal-Mart. Suicidal ideations never helped anyone make gumbo.
Saturday (Time to Cook!)
"I ga-ron-tee that you find my stereotypical Cajun accent amusing"
- 1/2 c oil (or preferably bacon grease)
- 1 c flour
- 1 c chopped onion
- 1 c chopped green onions
- 1/2 c chopped bell pepper
- 1/2 c chopped parsley
- 1/2 c chopped celery
- 1 gallon turkey stock (from above)
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh mint or 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried mint
- 3 cups okra, sliced 1/2 inch (frozen is fine)
- 1 pound andouille sausage or smoked sausage (sliced about 3/8 inch thick)
- 1 pound (2 c) leftover turkey meat (or more if you don't have other uses)
- Cayenne or hot sauce to taste
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the flour to make a dark roux. (Most good Louisiana cookbooks will give instructions on a roux.)
2. When the roux is a good chocolate brown, add the next five ingredients in stages, stirring carefully until onions are translucent. Stir in the part of the stock to make a paste. Add the garlic and stir into the paste.
3. Transfer to your large, heavy bottom stock pot, and then add the rest of the stock. When all the stock is stirred in, then add all the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer over low heat at least three hours, stirring frequently.
Serving: All this makes about 8 quarts or so of finished gumbo. Each quart will serve about 4. Serve over rice with crusty French bread and butter. Whatever you are not eating, cool, package, and freeze in quart containers. (I generally use quart freezer bags.)
This is a basic and traditional gumbo. It's good served as-is. Add shrimp, oysters, and/or crabmeat to make it a seafood gumbo. You can do that when you heat up a quart. Just always have some frozen. There's always a gumbo contest out there somewhere.
- Dirt McGurt