I thought I’d do a post on what to do with turkey leftovers since it’s the day after Thanksgiving. (We had a wonderful traditional menu with many leftovers). Hopefully, my experiences might help you make a dent in your leftover turkey! (And if you’ve got leftover suggestions, feel free to share them–what do you do with your leftover turkey?).
We left our Thanksgiving turkey out, uncovered, overnight so I had quite a challenge on my hands: what to do with a dried out turkey? I felt awful thinking about throwing all that food away. Even if the turkey were moist and fresh, it would still be a challenge: I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of turkey. In fact, the only parts of a traditional Thanksgiving meal that I like are pie and stuffing. I could really do without the turkey, let alone DRY turkey.
A friend of mine, Susan, had asked for the turkey leftovers (yes, I’m lucky to have a friend who’ll take my turkey!), but I couldn’t give a turkey in this state to her!
I do love a cooking challenge, so this became a blessing in disguise–suddenly, I became engaged with this turkey! I suddenly felt passion for a turkey dish! It would have to be, as Susan and I discussed over instant messenger, something saucy or stewy. She suggested turkey enchiladas and mentioned a family “turkey a la king” recipe. Intriguing!
I went through my cache of family recipes and I thought: gumbo, food of my husband’s Louisiana childhood! This is a hodge-podge dish, very accomodating for leftover turkey and also, something altogether different from the previous night’s meal. Different textures, spices–it makes the turkey feel “new.”
Besides, who can turn down good old Louisiana style food? I loove gumbo!
Now that I’ve made the gumbo, I have NO MORE leftover turkey. And that makes me happy, because as you now know, I don’t like turkey. Yay, it’s GONE!
The most important part of this recipe (that I base on Emeril Lagasse’s gumbo recipes–damn, I hate his TV show but I like his recipes) is the roux–that is the heart of any gumbo recipe. Tend to it carefully until it turns the color of chocolate and you’ll be rewarded with the base flavor for a spectacular gumbo. You’ll also need some andouille sausage, too–I’m not a pork eater but I make allowances for this (naughty naughty me). The shrimp is optional.
I used the carcass of the turkey to make the broth for this gumbo. If you skip out on that step and use another source for broth–be sure to add the bay leaves and plenty of black pepper in the gumbo itself.
Recipe follows after the jump…
TURKEY GUMBO RECIPE
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup flour
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne (I like it on the spicy side–please decrease to your taste)
1/2 pound smoked sausage like andouille or kielbasa, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
8 cups turkey broth (recipe follows)
Reserved turkey meat
Reserved onions and celery from broth
1/2 pound shrimp (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
file powder (optional)
1. Combine the oil and flour in a large cast-iron pot or enameled cast-iron dutch oven (I like to use my Le Creuset dutch oven), over medium heat. Stir slowly and constantly for 20-25 minutes, making a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate.
2. Season the onions and celery with the salt and cayenne. Add this to the roux and stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add the reserved turkey meat, reserved onions and celery, and shrimp, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the parsley and green onions.
3. Serve in soup bowls with rice. (File powder can be added at the table according to personal taste).
1 turkey carcass
3 ribs celery, cut into 4-inch pieces
2 medium onions, quartered
Enough water to cover the carcass
2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon black pepercorns
4 bay leaves
1. Place the carcass in a large stockpot (if you have to, you can use 1/2 a turkey carcass–I don’t have a stockpot large enough to contain a whole carcass). Add the celery, onions, water, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove from the heat. Skim any fat that has risen to the surface.
3. Straing through a large fine-mesh sieve. Reserve any meat that has fallen off the bones and pick off any meat that may still remain on the carcass. Reseve the onions and celery for gumbo. Use righ away or store the broth in ziploc bags in the freezer.