I’m not a turkey person. I’m not. I go for the “oysters” under the turkey that flank the turkey backbone. It’s dark meat at its unctuous finest but after that the bird is all yours. If the oysters “disappear” then I won’t be having turkey that year. I like having leftovers to pack up for Daddy and the traditional sandwiches the day following Thanksgiving but I find, without fail, I always have bags of turkey meat left over. Mammoth drumsticks pester me from their gallon freezer bags as do equally huge bags of carved white meat. “Use me! Use me!”, they taunt. Okay. Get ready to be scarfed down and enjoyed. The secret to this recipe is a good roux which takes no talent at all…just time, shugah. You must, MUST, continually whisk it in order for the flavor to bloom and to avoid scorching. Scorch or burn the roux and all you can do is throw it out and start over. It takes roughly 30 minutes to prepare. But other than that it’s easy, clear sailing. I’m not going to prepare turkey pot pie, tetrazzini, turkey soup, spaghetti sauce or anything. I’m not. I’ll toss it before I make that stuff. But gumbo? Oh, yes, ma’am! This’ll be a family favorite, I kid you not. It’s cold out and now it’s the Christmas season. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.
Turkey and Sausage Gumbo
- 8 cups turkey meat plus the turkey carcass and any bones you wish to use, it’s fine to use more turkey if you have it
- enough water to cover the turkey in the pot
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 12-ounce package Aidell’s andouille sausage or the andouille of your choice
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 5 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated garlic
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- prepared rice to serve with gumbo
- scallions, sliced, to garnish
- Place turkey in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil then cover and drop temperature to a gentle simmer.
- While the stock is being prepared add the vegetable oil and flour to a sauce pan and whisk over medium to medium high heat.
- Continue whisking the roux until it becomes a dark chestnut color. Do not walk away from it at any point or it may scorch or burn and there’s no saving it at that point. You’ll have to start all over.
- Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and thyme to the roux and stir, cooking the vegetables over medium-low heat until softened.
- Remove roux from heat and set aside.
- Cut the sausage in 1/4″ thick rounds.
- Add olive oil to a skillet and brown the sausage.
- Remove any bones from the turkey stock and shred any large pieces of meat.
- Add a cup or two of stock to the roux mixture and stir until smooth.
- Add the roux mixture and sausage to the stock. Stir until all ingredients are completely incorporated into the stock.
- Simmer until thickened about 2 hours.
- Serve over rice and garnish with sliced scallions.
I’ve given you a couple of sides and now would like to address everyone’s star of the day…the turkey. I’ll give you more sides but this way you can organize your thoughts, kitchen and schedule and have plenty of time to wrap your head around Thanksgiving dinner if you’ve never roasted a bird before. This is one of the easiest recipes out there and I have to credit the woman who is the all time greatest disaster in the kitchen. Mama. I know I’ve told you in earlier posts how dreadful she was in the kitchen…heck, she’d tell you! But I have to give her credit for a most incredibly delicious recipe that even a small child could produce. That said, this recipe will also yield most of the ingredients for some of the best gravy you’ll EVER have. It it truly the most sumptuous, luscious gravy I’ve tasted. Bar none. And that’ll be my next post. So let’s get on with it. It’s very important that you read ALL your recipes in advance so prep time can be accommodated stress-free. You don’t want to start on your cornbread dressing Thanksgiving morning to read that your dried cranberries were supposed to be slumbering in brandy all night! Also in advance and after determining how many mouths you will be feeding you need to decide whether to prepare a fresh or frozen bird. Remember, a frozen turkey can take 2-3 days defrosting in the refrigerator. Leading brand, injected with flavored broth or plain, store brand? Which ever you decide upon you will see on the outside of the turkey a table listing roasting times based on the weight of turkey. You might want to rinse that off and set it aside while you’re preparing the turkey for the oven or at least write down the weight of your bird and the suggested roasting time down on your notes. Spray some non-sticking cooking oil in your roasting pan. Making about a two-inch layer, place onions, carrots and celery in the bottom of the pan. Try to make it somewhat even as this will serve as your roasting rack. Take the neck, gizzards and giblets out of the turkey, throw out the little bag they’re in and transfer all of the innards to a plastic ziplock back. Label the bag and throw it into the freezer. You can use it another time for other dishes. Rinse both cavities well and pat the turkey dry with paper towels. A wet turkey will steam. A dry turkey will roast. Place the dry turkey in the roasting pan and liberally salt and pepper both the inside and out of the bird and fold the neck skin under the bird. Stuff the large cavity with the onion, lemon and bay leaves. Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine and twist the wings so they sit under the body. It’s kind of unnatural, the twisting part, but it’s really okay and the wings will roast more evenly. If you’re concerned the breast meat may turn out too dry use your hands to gently separate the breast skin from the meat being careful not to tear it. Slather butter under the skin onto the meat as far back towards the wings as you can. Feel free to flavor the butter with finely chopped fresh herbs, garlic paste, whatever sounds good to you. Pour a cup or two of chicken broth or stock into the pan. Put the turkey in the middle of the oven and roast at 425° for 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes drop the temperature down to 350° and roast the bird according to the table on the package directions. If you’re roasting a fresh bird that comes without the roasting table figure on the following:
- 20-25 minutes per pound for birds up to 6 pounds
- 15-20 minutes for 7-15 pounds
- and 13-15 minutes for birds 16 pounds and larger
These are suggested times for unstuffed birds. I don’t stuff my turkey because it never holds enough and so I always have to have a separate dish of dressing to serve. Baste the turkey with the pan juices about every 30 minutes or so. To check if your turkey is done pierce the skin of the thigh. If the juices run clear the turkey is done. If the juices run red give the bird a bit more time in the oven, checking regularly for doneness. Some people jiggle the the drumstick to check if it’s loose but this usually means the turkey is overdone. If you use a thermometer insert it into the middle of the thigh making sure not to make contact with the bone. Roast to a temperature of 180° to 185°. After removing the turkey from the oven let it rest at least 20 to 30 minutes. This will not only keep the juices intact but also allow for easier carving. Upon sufficient resting time transfer your bird to the carving board or platter. Use your hands and a heavy carving fork or whatever’s easiest for you, just do it fast so you don’t lose any precious juices. Save all the vegetables and pan juices to make your gravy. You’re almost there!!!