In my world, the turkeys are handled by the men. When I was young, my grandfather would spend several days smoking and tending the birds, the delicious smokiness following him indoors. It was the only Thanksiving turkey I can remember, year after year, and it still pains me that no one ever learned his techniques before he died. My father and my brother are all about deep frying the turkey, usually a gathering of men, the women left to tend the sides and desserts. It's delicious, too, and I don't mind not being a part of it. It feels like tradition.
But I still order a turkey every year to have in my home, regardless of where I spend the day. It's always smoked because I equate certain foods with the people I've lost. When I partake of those dishes, it is a more powerful remembrance, a more secure connection, than any trip to any cemetery could ever offer me.
The day after Thanksgiving, my husband takes up the mantle and uses the leftover turkey to make a turkey and sausage gumbo, a labor of love that signifies his own progression from New Yorker to Southerner. As it so happens, Friday is the anniversary of my grandfather's death fourteen years ago. We'll make and serve this gumbo, without doubt remembering the things we loved about him, laughing at silly things he did, speaking of him to my son, who would have brought him so much pleasure, and it will all be good.
Turkey Bone Gumbo -
You can make this with either a smoked or roasted turkey
Makes 6-8 servings
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup flour
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 pounds smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, chopped
2 quarts turkey broth (see below)
Reserved turkey meat (we always save 2 or 3 cups of dark meat from the turkey before we even make the stock)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1. Combine the oil and flour in a large cast-iron pot or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, over medium heat. Stirring slowly and constantly, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate.
2. Season the onions, bell peppers, and celery with the salt and cayenne. Add this to the roux and stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add the reserved turkey meat and cook for 15 minutes. Add the parsley and green onions.
3. Serve in soup bowls with rice. (Can add filé powder to taste, at the table)
makes approximately 2 quarts
1 turkey carcass
3 ribs celery, cut into large pieces
2 medium onions, quartered
4 quarts water (or enough to cover the carcass)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1. Put the carcass in a large stockpot and add all of the ingredients.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered for 2 hours. Remove from the heat and skim any fat that has risen to the surface.
3. Strain the broth through a large fine-mesh strainer. Reserve any meat that has fallen off of the bones (if it doesn't feel too dry) and any meat that may still remain on the carcass.
Use right away or store the broth in quart containers in the freezer.
*This recipe is a repost from November 2010. There have been no changes made from that original recipe.