Meditations

Turkey Gumbo


I have a confession. I’ve never been a fan of turkey. No matter how it was prepared, whether it be lovingly roasted, minced or turned into my Mom’s famous curry, there was something about that big bird that never appealed to me. It just seemed so… dull. Thanksgiving with its endless days of leftovers, followed far too closely by Christmas with even more leftovers left a dry, turkey scented residue in my mouth.

And then I got an invite to Turkey Gumbo Fest. Putting my turkey aversion to the side, I jumped on a plane and headed East to spend American Thanksgiving with friends. Why not? If you’ve ever spent an afternoon in the kitchen with either Rachel Black or Ablegrape’s Doug Cook, you know you are in for an experience. And what an experience it was, forget the turkey and  mashed potatoes, forget the brussel sprouts and roasted yams, this was a rich hearty gumbo that warmed your soul. And with this week’s forecast of snow and cold weather, it’s time to bring this recipe out and share.

May it warm your soul!

A huge thank you to Dave Hogue for the recipe, it was handed down to him from his grandmother and shared at Slow Food San Francisco’s Grandmother workshops.*

Turkey Andouille Gumbo

4 cups chicken stock
1 roasted turkey (about 3 lbs)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 lb andouille sausage, cut into slices
1 can (16 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp filé powder

Serves 8

(1) Remove the meat from the turkey and set the skin and bones aside.

(2) Make a brown roux: put the oil and flour into a large pot and cook over medium heat,
stirring often, until the mixture is a deep golden brown. The roux will start to brown
slowly, but once it starts it will go faster, so watch it closely after it begins to brown. Do
not leave a roux unattended, because it can go from golden brown to scorched and
coffee-colored quickly. As soon as the roux reaches the correct color, proceed
immediately to Step 3.

If you need to make your roux in advance, turn off the heat and set the pan aside before
the roux reaches the desired color, because the hot oil will continue to cook the flour for
several minutes after being removed from the heat.

(3) When the roux reaches the correct color, add the chopped bell pepper, onion, celery,
and garlic. Stir the vegetables in the roux for a minute or two, just until the roux cools
and the vegetables start to soften. WARNING: roux is very hot and can cause serious
burns. Do not reach into the pot, and stir carefully to avoid splashing when the
vegetables are added.

(4) Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, andouille, and all spices except the filé powder.

(5) Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

(6) Add the turkey and filé powder, and then simmer for another 15 minutes.

(7) Serve with hot, cooked rice.

*New Orleans is still suffering more than 5 years after Katrina, and they are in danger of losing many important local foods. Slow Food’s efforts help increase awareness and preserve this heritage, so consider joining or supporting and help preserve our varied food cultures!

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