Friday, November 30, 2012

Turkey Bone Gumbo

Here's what I'm making this weekend. I've got the stock made and the turkey reserved. Now I've just got to get the time to put the whole thing together which should happen this weekend. For those who've forgotten or never tried Turkey Bone Gumbo I thought I'd repost it since our family loves it so.

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After I reviewed Gumbo Tales, Sara Roahen very graciously emailed me some recipes. The Turkey Bone Gumbo had caught my eye and I made it after Thanksgiving. Oooo, now that was some good gumbo! So savory, so rich.

However, I didn't want to go spreading her recipes around. Then I recently finished Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. An excellent look at the basic cooking of New Orleans, it also had a recipe for Turkey Bone Gumbo that is very similar to Sara Roahen's. I now felt ok about putting the recipe out there. What follows is a combination of her recipe and of the one from Cooking Up a Storm.

The difference is that both recipes recommend saving any turkey meat from the carcass used for making broth and then to include it in the gumbo. I tried this, against my better judgment, which I am sorry to say was confirmed. After simmering for so long, the only thing that the salvaged turkey meat resembles is wood chips. Just save regular turkey meat (forgo a sandwich or two) and don't worry about recovering those bits of turkey from the cooked carcass. They will make the broth all the richer and you can toss them out without worry.

Roux making is not nearly as scary as you might think from reading recipes for it. Also, more important than anything else is keeping an eye on the color and keeping it from burning. My stove must cook hotter than either Roahen's or the recipe contributor from Cooking Up a Storm. I had roux ready in 10-15 minutes.

This is definitely a good reason to cook a turkey. I might have to do that this weekend ... my mouth is watering thinking of this gumbo.

For the stock
Step 1
1 turkey carcass
2 yellow onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2-4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 gallon water, or enough to cover carcass

Combine all ingredients in a big pot, bring to a boil and then lower heat, simmering uncovered for about two hours. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Drain the stock, reserving all liquid. Discard all solids.

For the gumbo

Step 1
1 cup vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups flour

In a large cast-iron pot or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and continue to stir constantly—either with a whisk or a wooden spoon. Cook for 20-25 minutes to make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate. If you sense that your roux is in danger of burning, reduce the heat immediately and continue to stir.

Step 2
1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, cut into ¼-inch cubes

Then stir in onion, bell pepper, and celery, salt, cayenne and continue to stir for about 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to wilt. Be prepared: when cold vegetables hit hot roux, they emit a cloud of steam and a loud hissing. Add sausage, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Step 3
3-4 bay leaves
6 cups turkey stock
2-3 cups chopped leftover turkey meat
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add bay leaves and stock to the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Add all reserved turkey meat and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.

Step 4
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
1/2 tablespoon filé powder
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Add black pepper and taste; adjust seasoning. Thin out with more stock or water if necessary. Just before serving, add parsley, green onions, and lemon juice. In order to properly incorporate filé powder, mix it first with a few tablespoons of stock; stir to a smooth consistency and then add to the gumbo. Serve with white rice, and potato salad if desired. Serves 8-10.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Review: An Everlasting Feast by Tamar Adler

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and GraceAn Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I noticed this book popping up in various spots and have been waiting for the library to cycle through others who requested it before me. One thing I noticed that I thought was fantastic was that the readers actually were feeling bolder in the kitchen, more willing to experiment and throw together a meal from inexpensive ingredients on hand ... and coming up pleased and increasingly confident thanks to the meals they produced.

I like any cookbook which does that.

Having finally gotten a copy I can say that Adler has a very practical viewpoint, which she herself mentions time and again. She talks about various ingredients and cooking approaches in a pleasant, discursive manner with very few actual recipes. It is this quality that emboldens her readers and a very good quality it is to have.

Adler says that she was inspired by M.F.K. Fisher's "To Eat a Wolf" which was a 1942 book written to encourage good cooking with minimal ingredients. As a long standing fan of Fisher's I can vouch for Adler being a descendent of that thinking, albeit a very practical one. Also as a longstanding fan of Fisher's, however, I would like to mention that, despite blurbs on the cover, Adler's style is nowhere near that of Fisher's.

M.F.K. Fisher wrote some of the most beautiful prose imaginable about cooking or about anything else you can imagine. Just to be sure I picked up my copy of The Art of Eating and flipped through it. I do not say this to take away from Adler, who does a very nice, practical job in her book ... which is a nice read in itself. I say this to encourage anyone who has read Adler's book to pick up a copy of any of M.F.K. Fisher's books for some of the most enjoyable food writing ever penned. My particular favorites are An Alphabet for Gourmets and Serve It Forth, but she made an entire book about oysters into something that I read again and again.

With all that said, An Everlasting Feast is not a book I'd actually recommend to someone who doesn't come across it on their own. The advice is crammed together in what I can only think of as one "sound byte" paragraph after another. She also likes to present her particular taste as being something everyone would love ... and I'm gonna say it now - a cold cooked greens sandwich just ain't ever gonna make me light up with joy, no matter how often she says it or how charming the venue in which she tasted her first sample. Etcetera.

I understand what she's getting at and, as I mentioned, I have seen testimony that Adler's book has helped a couple of friends to think of cooking as something more than recipes. Hence, the three stars instead of something lower.

I would advise instead though, to those inquiring:


As I say, Adler does a good enough job and I think this book is the one for our times when we are all hurried and harried. And I appreciate the gift she has given me in prompting me to pick up M.F.K. Fisher's books again. It has been much too long since I've reread any of them.



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