Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gumbo Ya-Ya (aka what every leftover Thanksgiving turkey should become!)

Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. It is perfect, really, because it is about amazing, traditional family food and reflecting on all the good things in life for which to be thankful. And, you know, there's no shopping involved (except for food, which is, in my world, the only kind of really fun shopping!).

As usual, I have already dropped the ball with this blog with posting all of our Thanksgiving recipes before the actual event. But, since we eat many of the same things at Christmas, I'll get them up soon. Afterall, pie is always a good idea. As is Aunt Ira's spinach casserole. But today, I'm giving you a great idea to use up that wonderful turkey carcass. If you haven't already picked the meat off of it and made a stock, that's your first step. Everyone has different stock techniques, and I didn't watch my dad closely enough this year to tell you all of his secrets, but one that I noticed that surprised me was that instead of just adding water to the pot to simmer the turkey carcass, he added good Pacifica-brand organic chicken stock, as well. Perhaps it is a bit like stone soup, but wow...I could have drunk the whole gallon of broth by the time it was done.'s our recipe, reproduced faithfully from our family cookbook, since I've not ever had the honor of making gumbo ya-ya. Though after my success in pie-baking this year (which will be covered extensively in a later post), perhaps next year I'll get my turn with the turkey carcass. Also, I'll try to get Mom and Dad to add some comments, as I think that there are a few variations that they've made to this recipe in the last 20 years. Other experts, please feel free to comment, as well. That means you, Uncle Dean!

Mister B's Gumbo Ya Ya

4 c. roux (see separate post here)
1 frying chicken
1 gallon chicken stock (see below)
1 lb. sliced andouille sausage (hot smoked sausage may be used)
2 bay leaves
1 t. dried thyme
1 T. Tabasco sauce
1 T. Gumbo file
1/2 c. chopped green onions
salt and black pepper

For stock:
water to cover chicken (about 1 1/2 gallon)
1 med. onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 bay leaf
2 T. salt
black pepper

Place chicken whole in a large pot. Cover with water. Add quartered onion, celery pieces, bay leaf, salt and pepper for stock. Simmer for 40-50 minutes until chicken is tender. Cool. Remove chicken, reserving liquid. Strip meat from bones and set aside in refrigerator. Return bones to pot and boil gently until volume of liquid is reduced to about 1 gallon. Strain stock through sieve and cool. Remove fat from surface of stock.

Brown sausage on both sides in an 8 qt. kettle. Add roux and heat to boiling. Add chicken stock, chicken meat, bay leaves, and thyme. Simmer 25 minutes. Add Tabasco and green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings. Simmer another 10-15 minutes. Just before serving add gumbo file. Serve in soup bowls over boiled rice. Hot garlic bread goes great with gumbo.

Gumbo tastes best cooked the day before serving and refrigerated overnight so the flavors can "make a marriage". Just reheat slowly to boiling and add gumbo file immediately prior to serving. Serves 8-10 people (6 Cajuns). Freezes well.

Gumbo can be made using turkey or chicken that has been cooked in an electric meat smoker. Simply strip meat from carcass before making stock from the bones, and add meat back in near the end. Using smoked meat adds a lot of flavor to the gumbo.

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