Day 2, Smoked Turkey Gumbo

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

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Day 1, Mini Apple Pies

Hello, and welcome to this year’s Advent Calendar! Are you in the holiday spirit now that December’s here? Maybe you’re the organized sort with your shopping done and presents wrapped. Maybe you’re dreading the idea and hope to put it off for another day. If so, consider yourself among friends; have a glass of prosecco and hang out for a bit. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’m here to help! My goal with this series is to post every day till Christmas with gift ideas and recipes (many southern-inflected, all gluten-free). Think of it as my own NaBloWriMo, only my failure is guaranteed the posts are planned to end on Christmas day. Wish me luck; it’s a huge undertaking for someone who typically posts once a month.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

You won’t find sweet stuff here everyday, but let’s start off with a bang, shall we? For your consideration, mini apple pies: all the goodness of the deep dish version, but portable, adorable and (hint, hint) perfect for giving. If you’re missing Hubig’s —and who isn’t? — okay, this isn’t the same, but close your eyes and pretend for a bit, then send some love their way.

For this recipe, as ever, I turned to Joy the Baker, who is unable to steer you wrong in matters of pie. Like Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson sifted together, she’ll buck you up and won’t let you fail. But even if you do (hey, shit happens), it’s still pie, and you can eat your mistakes.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

Once again, I brought out my prized Cup4Cup flour, which cured me of a fear of pie crusts. I don’t fear much in the kitchen and mostly keep my cool no matter what, but I absolutely am a big old drama queen when it comes to pies. Silly, I know, but you weren’t around to witness my abject failure whenever I tried to make a gluten-free version. Vapors were experienced, cursing ensued. But this flour is a dream to work with and the flavor’s right up there, too.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

But you’re not here to read about my issues. You want pie, and pie you shall have. With pictures. After the jump.

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