Well, it was raining today down here in South Texas which pretty much destroyed my plans to play in a golf tournament this morning. It was not only wet, it was cold too — almost 40 degrees so I really wasn’t too motivated to work in the yard or do anything that was particularly constructive.
Being trapped inside for a day led me to the refrigerator to chow down on some comfort food. As it turned out, I couldn’t find anything interesting but I did notice a frozen fried turkey carcass in the freezer. It was left over from Thanksgiving when we deep fried turkeys out in the backyard.
We have fried a ton of turkeys for ourselves and friends for many years. One of my sons and I get up early every Thanksgiving, crack open a bottle of cognac, pour some cotton seed oil in a pot, light up a fire and start frying turkeys. Lots of people use peanut oil for frying but we’re from SE Missouri cotton country and we use cottonseed oil (it burns cleaner and has a high flash point). Sometimes we have two pots going. I generally take a break and run the annual 5 mile turkey trot with our other son, daughter-in-law, daughter and anyone else who feels up to it, then it’s back to turkey frying. Sure helps build an appetite for the rest of the day.
Finished with rice, scallions and file powder.
Deep fried turkey carcass that had been seasoned with Tony’s spicy cajun and injected with creole butter.
All the seasonings left on the carcass make a great foundation for starting a gumbo stock, as long as you like your gumbo a little spicy. The great thing about gumbo is you can make it your own way each time, depending on what you can find to throw in it. Today I found the turkey, some left over hickory smoked chicken and smoked venison sausage. I had to buy a few onions, green peppers and celery but most of the other ingredients were on hand. At the last minute, I decided to add okra and shrimp and made a run to the store.
My gumbo routine goes like this. Make a stock, make a roux and chop up a bunch of onions, peppers and celery and stir into the roux. Then strain the stock, pour it in the roux, add the turkey, chicken, sausage, okra, tomatoes and shrimp and let it simmer. Now you have some gumbo. Here’s some detail.
This stock simmers for about 1 1/2 hours.
All the veggies and meat chopped up and waiting to go into the roux and then combined with the stock.
Peanut butter colored roux. Low heat, the longer you go the browner it gets. Don’t Burn!! Go slow, 40 minutes or so.
Veggies go into the finished roux for a little cooking. Stir in for 5 minutes or so and then add the sausage and stir a few more minutes.
Pour the stock into the roux and add the Turkey, chicken, stewed tomatoes and okra (skillet fry them few minutes before adding).
The fresh shrimp goes in last. Simmer for 2 hour Add a little tabasco and salt to taste. I like some bite in the gumbo. Add a few cups of water if you want to thin the gumbo. When you serve it, add rice, chopped onions and sprinkle some file powder.
Fried turkey carcass
12 c. water
3 onion, quartered
1 or 2 carrots, chopped
green pepper end pieces left over from chopped green pepper
3 stalks celery, plus the end piece
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (maybe a little more)
2 tsp. thyme (we added 2 more tsp after combining stock and roux)
4 bay leaves (from our herb garden)
1 handful fresh parsley plus stems
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. black peppercorn
Green pepper ends
1 tsp. Louisiana Hot Sauce (maybe more)
Salt (the carcass is already salty so you might need to add salt)
Vegetables for gumbo:
2 c. chopped celery
2 c. green pepper
3 c. chopped onion
12 c. turkey broth (or chicken broth)
2 lbs. venison sausage (0r use smoked link sausage).
3 c. picked turkey meat from carcass (or use chicken)
2 chicken breast (I had these smoked in the freezer)
1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 small bags frozen okra
Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup shortening in cast iron skillet until melted. Stir in two cups all purpose flour — don’t stop stirring — ever. Mine looked like dark peanut butter.
To the cooked and browned roux, add the peppers, onions and celery and then the sausage. Stir until they have wilted for about 5 minutes. Stir in the turkey stock very slowly. Whisk if you need to. Add the turkey meat, sausage, chicken, and okra* and tomatoes. I add more thyme and some Tabasco to this. If the gumbo looks too thick for you add some water – I reserved a cup of roux for future use but still added a few cups of water.
To serve, ladle some into your bowl, top with some rice (we used brown rice), sprinkle with some file powder and sliced green onions and parsley.
Ask your wife to make some corn bread. Can’t have gumbo without cornbread.
*Okra — fry the okra in a dry cast iron skillet, first. This will keep the gumbo from being slimy.
**NOTE from Sherry — His gumbo was great. He worked all afternoon on it while I was playing on the computer. I was so proud of him slaving away in the kitchen to make his big pot of gumbo. Wonder what’s up next.