Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Bone Thanksgiving Gumbo - Turkey Carcass Gumbo

A delicious gumbo made from the carcass of the holiday turkey.

Turkey Bone Thanksgiving Gumbo

Turkey bone gumbo, Thanksgiving gumbo or Turkey Carcass Gumbo - no matter the name you use, it is a great way to transform at least one of your Thanksgiving leftovers into a whole 'nother meal, by extracting every ounce of flavor from that holiday bird. While everybody is busy traveling and gathering for the big feast on Thanksgiving, I wanted to remind you not to toss that turkey carcass after your Thanksgiving feast!

And by the way, once all the feasting is over, pop back by here and check out my list of Thanksgiving leftover recipes too. You're bound to find something to transform those leftovers into something else your family will be happy to gobble down.

You can use the carcass to make an incredible tasting stock for turkey noodle soup, or for this delicious gumbo. Once you've carved up the bird, simply break the carcass up, stick it in a container and hold it in the fridge until you are ready. You can also freeze the carcass if you want to wait, but just don't toss it - you've got another meal waiting there!

The smell of this stock simmering is amazing - smells like the turkey is roasting all over again I swear! And the stock makes a beautiful base for this gumbo. Once you've cooked the stock, you'll strain it out from all of the bones and vegetables - make sure you're straining it into another pot though and not down the drain though! {Ask me why I tell you this.} Toss all of those bones, veggies and any stray meat scraps. They have done their job and all of the flavor has been extracted from them - so don't be tempted to use any of that meat or vegetables in your gumbo.

As always with any gumbo, practice mise en place y'all, meaning make sure that before you start cooking, you have everything gathered up and in one place. Chop up all of veggies for The Trinity, and have all of your seasonings, measuring spoons and cups at hand and ready to use. The roux waits for nobody, so have everything ready to go! Make your roux fresh on the stove-top if you prefer, or save yourself a little time by making an oven roux ahead of time, or simply use your microwave. Doesn't matter one bit.

Southern Style Hissy Fit Warning: I do want to say one thing about roux, that I've repeated on all of my gumbo posts. Roux can be brought anywhere from very blonde, to light tan for gravies, to peanut butter colored, or more ruddy, like a copper penny, to chocolaty brown, to deep brown, to nearly black - or anywhere in between for gumbo. Bottom line is that it's really a personal preference and don't let anybody tell you that a gumbo roux has to be nearly black. That's just simply not true. While some chefs may do that, I don't know anybody who does that in a home kitchen.

For one, it weakens the thickening power of your roux substantially and makes for a very thin gumbo. For another, it's very robust and very strong flavored. For another, it can take a very long time and is easy to burn if you try to rush it with high heat. If you like that kind of bold (or if you're cooking something like wild duck), by all means, take it super dark. Most folks I know don't want that flavor for a simple chicken, turkey or seafood gumbo and take the roux from somewhere around peanut butter colored to a slightly darker brownish color. Even though this is a turkey gumbo, while we are here, let me add, if you're gonna put crab in your seafood gumbo, and you want to call it authentic to the Gulf Coast region, it's blue crab. Not snow crab.

You will note that like regular chicken gumbo, I don't use okra in this gumbo either, though you could certainly add some if you like. I say pass the Gumbo filé at the table instead! Gumbo filé is simply ground leaves of the sassafras tree - and are sprinkled on individual servings after cooking to thicken the gumbo when okra has not been used. And by the way, a leftover chicken carcass works just as well for this gumbo. When I roast a chicken and debone it, I put the carcass and bones in a zippered freezer bag to save them for things just like this. Give it a try sometime!

As always with any gumbo, as delicious as it is day 1, it's even better the next day, so make it ahead whenever you can.

Recipe: Thanksgiving Turkey Carcass Gumbo

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 2 hours |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: About 8 servings


For the Stock:
  • 1 leftover turkey carcass, plus extra pieces (wings, legs)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2 large pinches of salt
  • 1 celery rib with leaves, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 1 large bay leaf
For the Gumbo:
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
  • 1 pound of andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
  • 3-4 cups of leftover turkey, torn or chopped
  • Perfect boiled rice
  • Gumbo filé
  • Hot sauce

Pick the carcass pretty clean and break it up, splitting off the bones. Refrigerate the leftover meat until needed. Place the carcass in a tall stockpot and add the water. Cover pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat, remove the lid and simmer (do not boil) uncovered, skimming off any foam that accumulates. When foam subsides, add the salt, celery, carrot, onion, and bay leaf. Cook, uncovered, at a steady, slow simmer for about 2 hours.

Use a strainer to drain the stock into another large pot - don't dump your stock down the drain y'all! Discard all of the bones and the veggies - they have done their job. Set the pot of homemade stock back on the stove.

Use a refrigerator roux that you've prepared in advance in the oven or microwave, or make a fresh dark roux on the stove-top. In the bottom of the original stock pot, heat the oil over medium and stir in the flour a little at a time. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until roux turns a dark brown, about 45 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper, cooking and stirring about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute.

Add a few ladles at a time of the warm turkey stock you made, into the roux and veggie mixture, blending it in well before adding more stock. Stir in the remaining stock and increase heat to bring a boil. Add the sliced sausage, reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 2 hours. Taste and add salt and Cajun seasoning to taste. Stir in the leftover turkey at the end, just warm through. All of the flavor is already infused into the stock.

Serve over hot, steamed rice, and pass the gumbo filé and hot sauce at the table. Since this gumbo does not contain any okra, gumbo filé will thicken it. Don't be tempted to stir gumbo filé into a pot of hot gumbo though - you will not like the result.


Cook's Notes: Gumbo is a dish that only improves with advance preparation, so make it ahead of time if possible. The flavors really need time to settle and mellow. It's always better the next day. Prepare, let cool and skim any accumulated oil off the top before storing. This is ideally made with a regular roasted turkey, however, you can also use a smoked turkey with the understanding that there will be a distinct smokey flavor to your gumbo.

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©Deep South Dish
For more ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers check out my ever-growing leftovers recipe list!
Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.
Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo with Okra
Seafood and Okra Gumbo with Shrimp, Crab and Oyster

Posted by on November 24, 2010
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  1. I never throw out the carcass without using it to make turkey soup. This might be something different I could try.

  2. Gumbo sounds delicious. I use my carcass to make stock as well, plus I have a bunch on chicken parts (wing tips, backs, etc) in the freezer from by BBQing to go with it. So I'll be putting back more than the six quarts I used for todays meal. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving and I can't wait to see what you cooked - unless I already have over the past week.

  3. Hi Mary! Wishing you and your turkeys a Happy Thanksgiving!

    This gumbo is mouthwatering! Well, so is everything else on your blog :-)!

  4. Your gumbo sounds delicious. I hope you and those you love have a wonderful holiday. Blessings...Mary

  5. My SIL does Thanksgiving every year and she's a vegetarian (bless her for tackling a turkey when she doesn't even eat them), so as you can imagine, the bones were gone before I could stake my claim in them. I think I'll just have to serve a turkey for Christmas dinner now so I can get a set of my own bones.

    Your gumbo looks perfect!

  6. Beautiful! I love using leftovers in creative ways. Thanks for the recipe and inspiration!

  7. One of the best cheesecakes I have ever tasted at Sam's is the Lawry's Turtle cheesecake over in the frozen section. I usually buy a couple every Christmas. I have even given them as a hostess gift for our friends New Year's party.
    Happy Holidays!

  8. Mary,
    I always look forward to having my turkey carcass after thanksgiving and my ham bone after Christmas. My turkey was so big I divided it into 2 freezer bags. I made this gumbo tonight and it is scrumptious! The other half was used for turkey and dumplings and they are absolutely fabulous! The ham bone will be for large limas or as we call em big beans :) Thanks Carrie

  9. Thanks God I found this recipe! I've never in my life made either stock or Gumbo, but I do love to cook. I had leftover turkey after Thanksgiving and I made both, BIG FAT WIN! Today, I'm making Gumbo again for The Superbowl, I can't wait to eat it!

    1. You're welcome & thanks so much for stopping back by to let me know you've enjoyed it!

  10. Do you cook the Andouille Sausage before adding it to the stock and rue mixture? How much stock should be added? 1 gallon? When do you add the Cajun seasoning? When stock and rue are combined?
    Kathy Taylor

    1. Hi Kathy! So sorry I didn't explain things well. 1) You never have to brown the andouille sausage before adding it to a gumbo. I'm referring to the smoked version of course, not a raw sausage. Sometimes I saute it before adding it, just to brown it, more often I don't. 2) You start off preparing the stock with a gallon of water. It will reduce some but you will use all of the stock when adding it to the roux. 3) Since you are salting the stock, you will add the additional salt, if it is needed, and the Cajun seasoning, just before adding back the turkey meat. Just taste and add, only as needed. I hope that helps & my apologies for not being more clear initially! Happy Holidays!!

  11. I have always cooked down my turkey carcass but after straining the broth off I pick the meat off the bones, usually getting 3 cups or more of meat.. I never put the veggies in the carcass when boiing it. I dice them up and add to broth and simmer a little while before adding the home made noodles. Was at my Sons for Christmas and on Friday I boiled the carcass and when he came home from work He exclaimed, Chicken and noodles for supper! Didn't happen until New Years Eve! He was a happy camper! Taught his 17 year old Daughter to make the noodles, hope she remembers how to do it! lol

    1. Thanks for sharing your method for chicken and noodles! I love that dish - true comfort. I also pick the carcass, but since it's already cooked, I do that before I boil down the bones and then add the meat to the finished stock. Since I'm making a bone stock, I always include the classic stock veggies - onion, carrot & celery - when boiling down the bone. Try it sometime - it really enhances the broth!

  12. Granny and I were discussing Thanksgiving dinner just the other day. She is concerned since I'm generally the only one who does any cooking but am not really able to do this much anymore. Anyway, I've never liked turkey & noodles and always feel like we're missing out by not using the carcass in a constructive manner, so I must give this a try.

    I'm also wondering what you think about making turkey stock in a crockpot. That's something that can be put on late at night and I don't have to fool with it, thereby reducing my workload as well at time spent on my feet. (I have a myriad of physical issues.)

  13. Granny and I were discussing Thanksgiving dinner just the other day. She is concerned since I'm generally the only one who does any cooking but am not really able to do this much anymore. Anyway, I've never liked turkey & noodles and always feel like we're missing out by not using the carcass in a constructive manner, so I must give this a try.

    I'm also wondering what you think about making turkey stock in a crockpot. That's something that can be put on late at night and I don't have to fool with it, thereby reducing my workload as well at time spent on my feet. (I have a myriad of physical issues.)

    1. Thanksgiving & Christmas are my two favorite meals of the year! I look forward to them all year. You can certainly do a stock in the crockpot. You'll need about 8 hours on low, first the carcass for 6, then add the seasoning & veggies for 2 more hours.


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