Saturday, November 27, 2010

First You Make a Roux

I love any occasion that encourages me to get together with those I love and spend the day cooking and eating.  Now it's 2 days later and in every home across the country, scrumptious leftovers are dwindling quickly.  Here in south Louisiana, turkey on Thanksgiving Day is just a preamble to deliciousness to come:  turkey gumbo.  And like so many good Louisiana recipes, it starts with a roux.

Here's my recipe:

turkey carcass with whatever leavings of meat are on it; I usually cut it into 4 pieces so they fit nicely in the pot
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (not olive -- peanut is good because it can take high temperatures)
1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (or a couple of tablespoons of dried if that's what you have)
water or broth to cover
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 to 1 pound andouille sausage (or other smoked sausage you like) cut into 1/4 inch rounds
cayenne pepper and salt to taste
1 bunch finely chopped green onions
file powder (ground sassafrass root)

First you make a roux:  In your soup pot, combine oil and flour over medium heat, stirring/scraping continuously until the flour cooks to a medium brown color.  Some like it really dark, but there's a fine line between dark and burned.  Once I crossed that bitter line and the house smelled dreadful for days. (Seemed like days.)  Now I stay on the safe side and stop when it's about the color of peanut butter.

Throw in onions, bell peppers, celery, and parsley and saute until the vegetables are wilted.

Add turkey pieces and sausage.

Add enough water or broth to cover all the ingredients by at least an inch.  Don't worry if you add too much -- you can always just cook it longer to reduce.  You just don't want to add too little.  Actually, if you add too little, you can still just add more as needed.

Add salt and cayenne to taste.

Cook for a couple of hours partially covered so that the liquid can reduce.  Stir every so often.  Or if you have a husband who cannot resist stirring, let him do it whenever he wanders into the kitchen.  I'm married to a stirrer.

It's done when the meat is falling off the bones and the broth is the consistency you like. (I like it pretty thick.)  Fish out the bare bones and icky bits (skin) at the very end -- they add flavor and texture to the soup while it's cooking.  I also skim off the oil, though some people like to leave it.

Serve over fluffy rice and throw a handful of green onions onto the top of each serving.  I let everyone add their own file at the table.  (Some like it, some don't.)

So good.  I like it with cornbread.

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