Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo

Making gumbo from the leftover turkey is a Thanksgiving tradition at our house.  It is a great way to shift the flavors away from the cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and gravy everyone's been eating for two days, and it is way more satisfying than a turkey sandwich.  It starts with making stock from the turkey bones and just keeps getting better:
Ingredients:
  • Stock
    • Turkey bones, stripped of meat, seasoned, baked
      • Rosemary
      • Thyme
      • Black pepper
      • White pepper
      • Red pepper
      • Dried cilantro
      • Basil
      • Oregano
      • Sea salt
      • Garlic salt
    • Onion
    • Green pepper
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Rosemary
    • Thyme
    • Sage
    • Red pepper
    • Black pepper
    • Sea salt
    • Garlic Salt
    • Oregano
    • Basil
    • Paprika
    • Water
  • Turkey, pulled into bite sized or smaller pieces
  • Kielbasa
  • Celery
  • Red pepper
  • Onion
  • Dad's spice mix (see Chicken, The Phantom Menace)
  • White wine
  • Roux
    • GF Flour (Bob's Red Mill All Purpose mix) (~1/3 cup)
    • Vegetable Oil (~1/4 cup) (or clarified butter)
  • Black eyed peas
  • Black beans
  • Carrots
  • Sugar
  • Red pepper
  • Water

Procedure:
Stock:
    After cooking a whole bird, or other meat that leaves you with a bunch of tasty bones, I like to make stock.  Homemade stock is extremely easy to make and way, way better than any store bought broth or bullion.  The key to good stock is baking the bones.  Once we were done with Thanksgiving dinner, we got all of the meat off the bones (you can leave skin and a little fat).  Don't be shy to put down the knife and use your fingers - you can only carve nice slices off so much, and you're going to want small pieces for the gumbo later anyway.  Once the bones are clean, put them in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet with sides to catch liquids - you don't want fat to drip onto the stove and start a fire.  Sprinkle the bones generously with salt, pepper, and any herbs and spices you like - garlic salt, celery salt, paprika, and rosemary work well.  Bake the bones at 350-400 for 1-2 hours.  They should be very browned, bordering on blackened, bot not burnt or charred.
    After the bones are baked, cram them into the bottom of a large pot.  Don't be afraid to use some force, breaking bones is good - it exposes the marrow even further than baking.  Add some roughly chopped vegetables - celery and onion are a must, I usually use a bell pepper and carrots as well, use whatever you like or look online for some more suggestions.  Only chop them roughly because you'll be straining them out later.  Also add herbs, spices and salt.
    Cover the mix with water and get it simmering.  Simmer uncovered until it reduces by about half - I think I let mine go for about 4 hours, and ended up with a little under half a gallon of stock.  Let it cool a little, and skim fat off the top a few times.  Strain out all the solids and you're left with a dark, flavorful stock.  The stock is very potent, so you can usually cut it with equal amounts water.  
     
Gumbo:
    To start the gumbo, get the black eyed peas and black beans cooking if you're starting with dried (not necessary if they are canned).  When Season the onions, celery, and red pepper with some of the spice mix and caramelize them in a pan with no oil.  When there is a good amount of residue and they are getting cooked, add some wine or other liquid to deglaze the pan.  Add the sliced kielbasa and cook until browned lightly.  Add the stuff in the pan and the beans to a large pot, add stock and water, and start it simmering.  Add the carrots and the pulled turkey.  Next, it's time to make the roux.  This is a somewhat delicate operation.  In a pan, start mixing the flour and oil on medium to high heat.  Stir it constantly while it slowly browns.  The roux is done when it is just bordering on burnt.  As soon as it is ready, add it to the big pot and stir it in.  Let the gumbo simmer for about an hour, or until you're too hungry to wait.  Taste it and add sugar, salt, pepper, or whatever else you think it needs.  Serve the gumbo in bowls on top of rice.

Resulting Deliciousness:
    The stock turned out very rich, very tasty.  After sitting overnight in the refrigerator, it was almost jelly-like, so it was pretty high in fat.  We cut it with about an equal amount of water for the gumbo.  The gumbo was fantastic.  Even after simmering for an hour or more, you could still taste the flavor of the brine in some of the dark turkey meat.  The fatty stock did not make the gumbo greasy, which can easily happen if you don't skim enough fat off of the stock, or don't cut it with enough water.  The flavors of the gumbo were perfect, everything blended well, and the meal left you feeling very satisfied.  I think the key to the blending of the flavors is the few tablespoons of sugar added at the end. 
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