2012 Advent Calendar, Day 2

When a gumbo craving strikes, even the flimsiest of pretexts will serve to start a roux. One tossed around with abandon in this house is “gumbo weather” — any temperature dip below 65 degrees, at which point this hothouse orchid laments the long winter ahead and dons long sleeves, if not layers. A slight shiver may also manifest, which can be reliably removed by a large bowl, as anyone who’s had the gumbo sweats after eating too close to bedtime will tell you. (Guilty!) Other acceptable excuses for indulging include:

  • The game is coming on (choose your team/bowl),
  • I have all this chicken/sausage/andouille/game/seafood in the fridge,
  • The rice situation is getting out of control,
  • It’s Saturday.

While no rhyme or reason is necessary for gumbo, holidays demand it in some form, whether a hearty chicken and andouille version for Thanksgiving or a more celebratory seafood version for Christmas dinner. My parrain made The Best seafood gumbo, and one of my fondest annual Christmas memories is of hanging out with him in the kitchen while the gumbo was warming, catching up, and sharing a few off-color jokes.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 2

How gorgeous is that bird? The stars aligned for me this year when Lawrence at The Wood Pit planted the idea to order a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving. His brisket, pulled pork and chicken wings are nothing short of amazing, so putting our dinner in his hands seemed a wise choice. And it was. While I knew that one turkey, no matter how small, would yield far too much food for three people, my ulterior motive was gumbo, so leftovers were welcome.

Once the remainders of the meal were packed away and our dear friend Mark was heading back to the city, I stripped the carcass of skin and much of its meat, broke it apart at the joints and started the stock. I’ve used Michael Ruhlman’s oven method of making stock for the past few years and it’s a complete joy, especially after two long days of cooking. I just put the bones in a large pot, covered them with an inch or two of water, then placed it in a low oven (180 degrees F is ideal, though my oven’s minimum 200 degrees F seems to work for me) for about 14 hours. I continued with the recipe the following morning to add a little flavor to the stock, then refrigerated it for a couple of days until I had time to complete my plans.

I based the gumbo itself on Donald Link’s recipe from Real Cajun and altered it for my purposes. I like to use Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour for a gluten-free dark roux, but this blend doesn’t behave the way a roux with regular white wheat flour does. It darkens much faster (a wonderful thing, in my opinion), but doesn’t lose any of its thickening power as it does. I forgot this salient fact and used the full amount of roux which rendered a gumbo nearly thick enough to be a stew, but still delicious. I haven’t tried any of the other gluten-free flours for roux, but if you have, please leave a comment to let me know how you liked it.

We ate like kings for nearly a full week from this one pot, which seems to make it ideal for an open house this time of year, if you do that sort of thing. If not, you know gumbo weather is the perfect excuse to indulge.

recipe after the jump

Smoked Turkey Gumbo adapted from Donald Link’s Fried Chicken and Andouille Gumbo in Real Cajun

As I mentioned in the post, this makes a very thick gumbo. I’ll probably reduce the roux by half next time I make it, but this recipe is what you see pictured at the top of the post. I love building layers of flavor, so I added chipotle chili powder and pimentón to enhance the smokiness of the turkey. Filé powder is ground sassafras leaves and might be tough to find outside of Louisiana. Check specialty markets or spice stores, or order online.

Leftover turkey meat, shredded (I had half of a medium turkey remaining after Thanksgiving.)
1 1/4 cups grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour
1 large onion, cut into small dice
3 celery stalks, cut into small dice
1 large poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and cut into small dice
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into small dice
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed seeded and finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons pimentón
4 quarts turkey stock, warmed
1 pound andouille sausage, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch slices
Filé powder
Hot sauce
Cooked rice

First you make the roux. You can do this either in a large cast iron skillet or in the same pot you’ll use for the gumbo. I chose the latter and used an eight-quart pot, just fyi. Stir together the oil and flour until there are no lumps, then turn the heat to medium-high. As the roux cooks, stir constantly either with a whisk or a flat bottomed wooden spoon. When it reaches a light brown color, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until it reaches the color of peanut butter. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking until it’s just a bit deeper than the color of milk chocolate. I’d make darker roux with regular flour, but haven’t seen just how far I can go with gluten-free; milk chocolate seemed like a fine stopping point.

Carefully stir in the onion, celery, peppers, garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, chili powder and pimentón into the roux with a wooden spoon. Be careful when adding the vegetables because it will create a big burst of steam. Transfer roux to a large pot if you’ve been cooking in a cast iron skillet till now. Slowly stir in the turkey stock over medium-high heat, making sure there are no clumps of seasoning, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to keep roux from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes. Skim off the oil and scum (only a problem with gluten-free flour) that rises to the surface.

Add turkey and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Add sausage and simmer slowly for about an hour more, frequently skimming the surface of fat. Taste the gumbo. If it still tastes strongly of roux, add more stock or water to dilute.

The gumbo is finished when no more oil rises to the top. Serve over hot rice and sprinkle with filé powder and hot sauce. Serve with a fresh mayonnaise-based potato salad for a heavenly experience.

Note: I’m planning to open an Etsy store in the new year to sell prints, cards, etc. Tell me: would you like to see these Advent Calendar posts collected into a set of cards with the recipes? Anything else your hearts desire?

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