If your Thanksgiving entertaining doesn’t end with your guests rolling out the front door on Thursday night, you’ll be interested in this recipe. It makes two gallons of gumbo that’s perfect to feed your weekend guests. Using your leftover turkey in a gumbo will make it seem less like a Thanksgiving leftover and more like a fresh dish. The gumbo also calls for a couple of bottles of beer, so after your guests arrive with their beer selections in hand, snitch two of your favorite bottles and stow them away for this recipe.

This recipe comes from “New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soups” by Kit Wohl, a former Gourmet Cook Book Club selection.

When you’re shopping for your Thanksgiving dinner, make sure to add the ingredients for this gumbo to your list so you won’t have to run out over the weekend. You might also want to chop up the onions, bell peppers, and celery when you’re doing the rest of your Thanksgiving prep and place them in containers in the back of your refrigerator so they’ll be ready to use when throw the gumbo together.

Turkey and Sausage Gumbo
Gumbo is one of those exemplary dishes that can be made in any number of ways. The emphasis is on the main ingredients: meats, poultry, seafood or almost any combination of them. Roux and the trinity of seasonings create a smoky, dense taste, rich in texture and full of flavor. In south Louisiana, families get together for holidays and cook up a continuous two- or three-day food fest beginning with visits to the farmers markets and grocery stores.
  • 1 whole turkey carcass
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups corn oil, to make roux
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cans your favorite local beer or an equal amount of stock or water
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil, to sauté sausage
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, thinly sliced and then cut crosswise into half-moons
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 gallons chicken and turkey broth, homemade or canned. (This should include the liquid in which the turkey carcass was cooked.)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cooked rice, for serving
1.     Cut the turkey carcass in half and, in a large pot, simmer the halves in water to cover until the remaining meat falls off the bones.
2.     Drain and reserve the cooking water. Remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones. Shred the meat. (If this does not yield 2 to 3 cups of turkey, add any poultry meat.)
3.     In a heavy saucepan, make the roux by heating the 2 cups of corn oil over medium heat, adding the flour and cooking, stirring frequently, until the roux reaches the color of milk chocolate. Be careful not to let it scorch. (Completing the roux will take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Cooking slowly on low heat is the secret to succeeding with roux.)
4.     Add the chopped onions, peppers and celery to the roux. (This will temporarily stop the cooking process.) Cook the roux until the vegetables are tender, stirring constantly. As the vegetables cook, their sugar will be released and the roux will darken even more as the liquid evaporates. Stir in the beer (or stock or water), the Worcestershire and the hot sauce.
5.     In a large Dutch oven or the original soup pot, sauté the sausage and garlic in one tablespoon of oil until the garlic is translucent and soft. Carefully add the roux mixture to the pot, stirring. (It will spit and sputter.)
6.     Add the turkey broth and stir in the basil, oregano, thyme and cayenne pepper. I’ve seen Chef Robert add the leftover turkey gravy to the gumbo. Simmer, covered, for one hour, then add the shredded turkey and cook for 20 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as desired.
Yield: 2 gallons

Serves: 16 to 20

From New Orleans Classic Gumbos & Soups by Kit Wohl, © 2009. Used with permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Turkey gumbo: Perfect for after Thanksgiving guests
A traditional New Orleans recipe uses your turkey carcass, leftover turkey meat and some beer to feed the lingering crowd.