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There are some traditions that cannot be broken no matter how busy you get. The post-Thanksgiving turkey gumbo is one of those traditions. Even when I don’t host Thanksgiving I go out and buy a turkey for the sole purpose of gumbo after the Big Day.

I love gumbo. No, really. I REALLY love gumbo. I would eat it even if it were 90 degrees outside. In fact, sometimes we have to turn the air conditioner down to enjoy our gumbo. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. That’s the price we’re willing to pay for some hot, thick gumbo goodness.

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There are a few things you should know about my gumbo. There is no okra in my gumbo. NO OKRA. I mean it. If you want to put okra in it, go ahead. Just don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. Also, there is no filé in my gumbo. Filé is the ground leaves of the Sassafras Tree and is used to thicken gumbo. My gumbo gets its thickness from the roux so there’s no need for okra or filé.

Much like the caramelized onions from the French Onion Soup I made last week, roux is a labor of love that requires constant stirring. A lot of stirring. I might need rotator cuff surgery soon. Did I mention there’s stirring? Don’t be afraid. You will be rewarded with a lovely dark roux that is the basis of flavor and color in this delicious gumbo.

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That’s not the best picture in the world but I think you get the idea. The roux should get to be the color of dark chocolate or at least milk chocolate. Just when you think it’s dark enough, brown it a little more. But be careful. There’s a fine line between just right and oops, I burned it. Give it a shot. What else are you going to do with that turkey carcass?

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Turkey Gumbo

  • Turkey carcass, picked mostly clean of meat; meat reserved
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large or 2 small Spanish onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8-10 cups turkey stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1lb smoked andouille sausage, sliced
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • sliced green onions

For the stock: Break turkey carcass into pieces small enough to fit into a large stockpot. Place turkey and any aromatics, such as onions, celery, carrots but not including citrus into the stockpot. Cover with enough water to cover turkey bones by an inch. Place over high heat until it comes to a rolling boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook uncovered for at least an hour. Using a slotted spoon, remove bones and pieces from stock. Pick any meat off of bones and place with other reserved turkey meat. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and set aside while making the roux.

For the gumbo: In a large cast-iron Dutch oven, heat oil over high heat. When oil is hot add flour and reduce heat to medium. Stirring slowly and constantly for 20-25 minutes, make a dark brown roux the color of chocolate. When roux is dark enough, add chopped onions, celery and bell pepper, stir well to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5-10 minutes until vegetables have softened. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Pour in reserved turkey stock and add bay leaves. Bring back to a boil, stirring until mixture is smooth. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Add sliced andouille sausage and reserved turkey meat. Simmer another 10-15 minutes until meats are hot and gumbo is thick. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper or gumbo seasoning. Serve with cooked white rice and sliced green onions. A little garlic bread wouldn’t hurt either.

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