Gumbo Is the Best Car for This Turkey Carcass

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope your turkey was wet, the pie crusts were flaky, and your racist relatives weren’t. After a large meal has been cooked up and (mostly) eaten, it’s time to turn our attention to the leftovers that we were secretly waiting for anyway. I’m a big fan of throwing everything in a sandwich, but once you’ve gotten enough of it, you should make a large gumbo pot.

This is part of the Lifehacker Eating Trash With Claire series in which Claire Lower convinces you to turn your kitchen waste into something edible and tasty.

This is the best option for several reasons. First, all poultry leftovers – both meat and bones – are used without loss. It’s also a great way to use any vegetable trimmings, garlic skins, or onion peels left over from Thanksgiving cooking. Gumbo is also warm, soothing and all I want on a cold day, but the main reason I like it is because it has a completely different flavor profile than your Thanksgiving feast. Instead of rosemary, sage and thyme, we have the holy trinity of celery, onions and bell peppers, and Cajun seasoning. To be honest, you have no idea that you are eating leftover food.

Everyone prepares gumbo differently, so feel free to experiment with this recipe and make it your own. Some people like their soup, but I love it when my gumbo is reduced until it almost becomes a sauce (you can also just add less broth, which is cheating, but gets into your mouth faster). In any case, you will need:

  • 1 turkey carcass with each piece of meat removed
  • Any vegetable scraps you cleverly saved from Thanksgiving preparations (if you don’t have enough of them, throw in a couple of quartered onions, about five cloves of garlic, and a couple of celery stalks).
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon rainbow pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Whatever turkey leftover you have (aim for four cups of minced meat)
  • 1 pound Anduy sausage, diced into coins
  • ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • About 3/4 cup of some kind of fat (vegetable oil or something with a higher smoke point is preferred here, as the oil will taste burnt)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large bell peppers, chopped (green usually, but I use red and yellow)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, preferably Tony Cachere’s
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion

Make a broth by dropping the first six ingredients into a large saucepan, filling it with enough water to cover the entire contents, and letting it simmer for at least four hours, scooping off any foam and adding water if necessary. When ready, strain, refrigerate and refrigerate. (Scrape the top off of the fat as it hardens.) This can be done the night before you plan to cook the gumbo, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Fry the sausage and set aside. Measure 3/4 cup flour into a bowl and weigh, then weigh the same amount of fat by weight. Combine the fat and butter in a large saucepan or enamel Dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until you have a milk chocolate sauce.

Season vegetables with salt, pepper, cajun seasoning, granulated garlic and onions and add them to the roux dressing. Cook until vegetables are tender, then add sausage and broth. Bring everything to a simmer, then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add turkey, cook until warm. If you like a more sauce-like gumbo, simply add less stock and slowly pour into the sauce, stirring continuously, until you get a thick sauce. (It’s kind of a scam, but I grew up making it so much.) Whether you’re making a soup or a gravy-like gumbo, both should be served with hot rice, hot sauce, and green onions for people to garnish to their liking. …


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