This year, I'm thankful for all the incredibly tough women in my life, past, present, and future. I come from a family of some pretty strong and badass women, and you better believe I loved that growing up. When I was six months old, my mom and my Aunt Karen would take me around the New Orleans area in my little car seat delivering home cooked meals to people living with HIV and AIDS. I’m pretty sure that makes me the youngest volunteer the NO/AIDS task force has ever had on record, but even if not, I’m still going to keep saying so. It absolutely didn't happen this way, but in my ideal memory, I was dressed in baby stilettos and a rainbow onesie.
It probably goes without saying that back then there was a stigma attached to HIV and AIDS that in many ways, of course, is still boldly hanging around even in 2016. The meal delivery was part of a program called Food for Friends, which my grandmother’s sister, my Great Aunt Rose, helped to establish--against the prevailing ideology at the time that ignored the concerns of HIV+ people and people living with AIDS. I'm absolutely going to take my great Aunt Rose as an inspiration for how to not stay quiet about injustices.
At one point, Food for Friends put out a cookbook to raise funds. My Maw-Maw (my great-grandmother) had a killer gumbo recipe that made its way into the cookbook, and I'm glad it did. I decided to make it the other day because I've honestly never made gumbo before, and if there was ever a time for a large comforting bowl of nostalgia, it's right this minute.
Annnnd, as every New Orleanian is tired of hearing, the whole thing about gumbo is that it comes from the fusion of a ton of different cultures and cooking styles, and even the ingredients used in it have origins from all over the world. So for that reason, we always talk about New Orleans--and in this case, I'm gonna go as broad as the whole U.S.--as being a gumbo, a sum of equally important parts that have all different origins and histories, and that get all mixed together to make something truly great. Equally. Important. Parts. Now excuse me while I go ugly cry to the tune of "America the Beautiful."
In addition to being a huge symbol of pride and diversity for me, this recipe is a great way to use your leftover turkey in the days following Thanksgiving. If you’re making this at some other time of year / don’t already have turkey made, I’ve included a quick recipe for roasting a couple turkey drumsticks. But don’t feel like you have to use turkey at all! The best thing about gumbo is you can make a delicious meal out of pretty much whatever you’ve got. Pot roast? Sure. Bacon? Absolutely. Quinoa? Well, that caused some uproar when Disney did it a couple months ago, but honestly, I’d give it a try. It’s time to end all forms of discrimination, gumbo ingredients included. Oh, and in case you're wondering, this gumbo gets topped off in a popular Cajun way, with a big pile of potato salad. Maybe you're used to seeing gumbo topped with rice, but not today.
Turkey Andouille Gumbo
Makes about 5 quarts.
- 1.5 cup all-purpose flour
- 1.5 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
- 2 cups (about 5 large stalks) celery, chopped
- 3-4 small-medium white onions, chopped
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 bunch green onions (about 1/2 cup), chopped
- 1/2 bunch parsley (about 1 cup lightly packed), chopped
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 lb Andouille sausage, sliced
- 3 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Gumbo filé and/or hot sauce to taste.
- Begin by making a roux.* Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. When oil begins to bubble slightly, add flour in slowly and stir constantly to prevent sticking and burning (a flat-ended wooden spatula or metal whisk works best). Cook and stir constantly 30-45 minutes, or until roux is a shade darker than peanut butter, something close to milk chocolate. If making roux ahead of time, pour into a large sheet pan with a 1" lip lined with parchment paper*, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze up to 1 month.
- Lower heat to medium-low and add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to pot and stir so that roux is covering vegetables evenly. Saute 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables become slightly translucent and begin to fall out of shape, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Add green onions, parsley, andouille, and chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
- Turn heat to medium to bring gumbo to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer 1.5 hours.
- Add shredded cooked turkey meat and simmer another 30 minutes.
- Serve over white rice or with a scoop of potato salad (recipe below) on top. Season individual servings with filé and/or hot sauce to your preference.
- 3 large baked russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp buttermilk
- 3/4 cup celery, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp coarse ground mustard
- 2 Tbsp dill, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all non-potato ingredients in a medium to large mixing bowl and whisk evenly. Add potatoes and stir until fully incorporated. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.
If you don't already have cooked turkey leftovers.
- 2 turkey legs
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp oil or melted butter
Preheat oven to 350*. Cover turkey legs in a thin layer of salt on both sides, then cover the tops with a thin layer of oil or melted butter. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, until juices run clear or a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest portion of the drumstick.
- Anyone who knows gumbo knows that the roux is where it's at - but it's also one of the steps most easily messed up. To make sure you don't burn your roux, check out this helpful guide.
- We recommend freezing the roux in a thin layer because it makes it easier to break up once frozen if you aren't using all of the roux at once. However, if you plan on using the whole batch you can go ahead and freeze it in a standard tupperware container.
- Like so many dishes from South Louisiana, gumbo only gets better after a day or so. This recipe will stay good in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to one week.