Down here in Central Texas, the climate has lulled us into a quiet confidence that cold weather may never arrive. It's this way every year. We have a little cold snap that makes us feel like we're one of you guys, only to have temperatures reach the mid-eighties the week of a well known AUTUMN holiday.
It's a little depressing.
But just when we lose all hope of ever having seasonal weather, another cool breeze comes along and we pull out our woolens and unpack the down comforters and change the menu. It's soup weather.
In my tiny little kitchen in my charming, old, drafty house, it's a matter of necessity. The steaming, fragrant, simmering pot of soup serves to warm both my body and soul, and by dinnertime, my tummy, too.
|The secrets to really good post-holiday turkey gumbo|
Maggie C. Perkins, Austin American-Statesman
Perhaps my favorite dish of the holiday season comes the day after each, if I can wrestle the remaining carcass from the family dinner table. While folks line up early to catch Black Friday or After Christmas sales, you’ll find me in the kitchen, humming along to my favorite tunes, stirring a steaming pot of gumbo that will be ready just in time for a favorite football game or an old movie. Over the next few days, the flavors will intensify-- these leftovers are the BEST leftovers.
2 large ribs celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
½ cup lard
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2½ quarts turkey stock (see below)
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced on the diagonal
4 cloves garlic, minced
+/- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
Turkey meat (reserved from making stock, below)
1 bunch scallions, green tops only, sliced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Early in the day, or preferably the day before…..
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove any large pieces of remaining turkey meat and reserve, leaving the meat that clings to the bone. Season the carcass with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast turkey bones at 350 degrees, until bones have begun to brown, and any remaining meat is crisp and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer roasted bones and any roasting juices to a large stockpot. Add 1 onion, 1 rib of celery, 1 bay leaf, 1T salt, 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns, ½ teaspoon ground oregano, and ½ teaspoon ground thyme. Cover all with water, about 3 quarts. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook at a rolling simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, adding additional water as necessary to maintain liquid level. Correct seasonings to taste. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve.
Over medium high heat, melt ½ cup lard. Gradually add ¾ cup flour, whisking constantly to prevent sticking or burning. (Important note: if your roux scorches, toss it and start again. Roux bad, gumbo bad.)
Stirring continually, bring the roux through the darkening stages of brown, about 25-30 minutes. I like mine as dark as you’ll find in a Creole gumbo—mahogany. Some cooks stop at a milk chocolate color. You may want to practice, beginning with milk chocolate brown and working through dark chocolate brown towards mahogany. There’s a sweet spot you’ll come to discover where roux is the darkest brown without scorching at all. (Did you know that the darker a roux, the less thickening ability it holds? Lighter roux thickens more. Darker roux might call for okra in the pot or file powder added to the bowl to aid in thickening.)
Once the roux has developed to the preferred color, carefully add the chopped ‘trinity’ of bell pepper, celery, and onion. This serves to cool the (scorching hot!) roux. Stirring constantly, (this is when I trade my trusty whisk for my trusty roux spoon) cook until vegetables have wilted and are transparent.
Add stock, garlic, andouille sausage, and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a hard, rolling boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook at a rolling simmer for 45 minutes. Add the reserved turkey meat, parsley, and green onions to the pot, simmering an additional 15 minutes. Correct seasoning to taste. Allow to cool a bit before ladling into soup bowls, traditionally over cooked white rice.