Turkey and Sausage Gumbo

You can never have too many cookbooks. That’s one of my mottos. And you never can have too many cookbooks that are about making soup.

Recently, I became interested in a cookbook titled “New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soup” (Pelican 2009). It’s the creation of Kit Wohl, an artist and author of seven cookbooks (soon to be eight) celebrating classic New Orleans cuisine, who has worked with chefs, restaurants and hotels across the United States. (Her second book, “New Orleans Classic Desserts,” is now in its fifth printing. The “P&J Oyster Cookbook” pays tribute to the city’s first family of oysters and their recipes.)

The cookbook highlights the spectacular versatility and comfort offered by New Orleans’ gumbos, soups, and bisques, drawing deserved attention to the Crescent City and its unique and inimitable culinary offerings.

“When you get right down to it,” Wohl writes in “Gumbos,” “there’s nothing more New Orleans than a terrific bowl of seafood gumbo.”

And with the holiday season just around the corner, “New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soups” (a Gourmet magazine cookbook of the month) offers recipes suited for large group entertaining, not to mention a wide variety of heart-warming, hearty and comforting dishes as the chill of the fall starts to set in.

The following recipe for Turkey and Sausage Gumbo is contained in the cookbook and looks like it might be perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers.

It’s never too early to think ahead. That’s another of my mottos.

Turkey and Sausage Gumbo
1 whole turkey carcass
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups corn oil, to make roux
2 large yellow onions, chopped
3 green bell peppers, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 cans your favorite local beer or an equal amount of stock or water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce
1 tablespoon corn oil, to saute ausage
1 pound smoked sausage, thinly sliced and then cut crosswise into half-moons
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1½ gallons chicken and turkey broth, homemade or canned (This should include the liquid in which the turkey carcass was cooked.)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cooked rice, for serving
Cut the turkey carcass in half and, in a large pot, simmer the halves in water to cover until the remaining meat falls off the bones.
Drain and reserve the cooking water. Remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones. Shred the meat. (If this does not yield 2 to 3 cups of turkey, add any poultry meat.)
In a heavy saucepan, make the roux by heating the 2 cups of corn oil over medium heat, adding the flour and cooking, stirring frequently, until the roux reaches the color of milk chocolate. Be careful not to let it scorch. (Completing the roux will take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Cooking slowly on low heat is the secret to succeeding with roux.)
Add the chopped onions, peppers and celery to the roux. (This will temporarily stop the cooking process.) Cook the roux until the vegetables are tender, stirring constantly. As the vegetables cook, their sugar will be released and the roux will darken even more as the liquid evaporates. Stir in the beer (or stock or water), the Worcestershire and the hot sauce.
In a large Dutch oven or the original soup pot, saute the sausage and garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil until the garlic is translucent and soft. Carefully add the roux mixture to the pot, stirring. (It will spit and sputter.)
Add the turkey broth and stir in the basil, oregano, thyme and cayenne pepper. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, then add the shredded turkey and cook for 20 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as desired.
Yield: Serves 16 to 20.

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