Turkey Bone Gumbo
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Back when I worked at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, I relished an invitation to the director’s house for Thanksgiving. Liz Williams lived in the French Quarter at the time and her house had a little brick courtyard, where we slurped her Turkey Bone Gumbo on more than one of our just-a-little-chilly-and- often-sunny Thanksgiving afternoons here in New Orleans.
Liz once told me that she only makes a turkey so that she can use all her leftovers for this gumbo. And it’s not just the leftover turkey that goes into the gumbo pot. Leftover gravy? Into the pot! (Even if it contains mushrooms, which it almost always does.) When she cooks the Thanksgiving turkey, she puts it over a bed of carrots. Everyone eats the carrots with Thanksgiving dinner, but are always some left over. Into the gumbo pot! If she makes peas in roux? You get it.
Instead of rice, she serves her gumbo with a dollop of leftover oyster and cornbread dressing in the bowl. For her recipe for oyster and cornbread dressing, visit EdibleNewOrleans.com.
“In anticipation of the file, I usually baste the turkey in at least one bottle of root beer. These days, I’m partial to Swamp Pop. The root beer not only imparts a beautiful color to the turkey’s skin, but adds a sweet richness to the gravy and drippings. In turn, this adds a haunting sweetness to the gumbo, with a sassafras completion with the sprinkling of file at the table,” Liz notes.
I like to blanket my turkey in bacon as well, a trick I learned from my mother.
Adjust this recipe to suit the amount of leftovers you have. Not a lot of turkey left over? Add more sausage. The best thing about this is that it can be different every year.
Stephanie Jane Carter is the publisher and editor of Edible New Orleans.