Harry's turkey and sausage gumbo!
Leftover holiday turkey is the star of this dish. This isn't a traditional gumbo recipe in some ways, but I find it very tasty and maybe a bit healthier than most recipes.
Here's the turkey, shortly after coming out of the oven. I use the drippings for making gravy for the meal. When the meal is over, I remove as much meat as I can from the carcass and then simmer it in water for six or more hours to make the stock I will use for the gumbo. I also will have a big box of chicken stock from the store in case more liquid is needed when I am cooking.
It's the day after the big meal, and it's time to make the gumbo. First, you make a roux. Those are the first four words of almost any recipe from New Orleans.
For my roux, I use one stick of unsalted butter and one cup of all-purpose flour. I melt the butter first, and then add in the flour. I keep the burner at a medium low setting. The process of making the roux takes time! I stir constantly, scraping the bottom to make sure nothing is cooking too fast. My goal is to take at least 45 minutes for the roux to get at least as dark brown as peanut butter. If the roux has a fragrance like bread baking, I know I am doing it right. For this batch, prepared the day after Thanksgiving in 2022, I kept cooking the roux until it got even darker.
Once the roux is nice and dark, I take it off the heat. I throw in a handful of diced onions and stir until the sizzling stops. Doing this starts the process of tempering the roux, and helps ensure it will stay thick when I start mixing in the turkey broth I made the day before. It's been simmering on another burner while I made the roux. After the onions have been added, the roux turned the color of rick chocolate. It doesn't always do this, so don't worry if yours doesn't get this dark.
Now I put the pan back on the burner, and start scooping a ladle full of broth into the pan, and then a ladle full of the roux, broth mixture into the stock pot, stirring each as I go. Once the roux mixture is in a fairly liquid state, I add all of it into the stock pot..
Now it's time to add vegetables, starting with about a cup of chopped okra. I used frozen okra from the store. This time they only had whole frozen okra, so my husband chopped it for me while I was doing the previous steps. I add the okra first so that it will mostly dissolve into the mix while the gumbo simmers.
My husband also chopped other vegetables, including onion, red bell pepper, celery, and minced garlic. After I added the roux to the broth, he wiped out the roux pan and used it to sautee these chopped vegetables in a little more butter before we added them to the gumbo pot.
Then we added in a big handful of matchstick carrots. Like the okra, these will mostly disappear, but they add a bit of sweetness and come more vitamins to the mix. Then we add 2 or 3 cups of the smaller bits of leftover turkey from yesterday's meal. The big slices will be saved for sandwiches!
The final ingredient is sausage. Most cooks will choose a Louisiana style sausage, but I like the flavor added by a good smoked sausage. That's my husband's hands doing the chopping for me.
We let the gumbo simmer for 5 or 6 hours until the flavors all meld together and the gumbo is nice and thick. While it is simmering, I add salt and pepper and a few shakes of Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning to taste.
And then serve it in a bowl topped by a scoop of cooked brown rice. I like to top it with chopped scallions, but was out of them this time.
This makes a huge batch of gumbo, but I freeze some for the next cold winter night.