Monday, November 7, 2011

Roasted birds make the best leftovers: Chicken Gumbo!

It's fall. It's the time of year when I like to fire up the oven and roast a chicken, filling the house with luscious warm smells that only make me more eager for the approaching Thanksgiving holiday! Roasting a bird is easy enough, but to truly be a kitchen master you need to make the rest of the bird work for you.

What do I mean? Leftovers. Not only do I like to toss the bones into a stock pot over night, but I pick the bird clean and stash any remaining bird meat for use in other dishes. Now, a pile of roasted turkey or chicken is fine when you want a sandwich but I've found few recipes make the better use of those little nibbly tiny bits of meat, even the dreaded dark meat, better than Chicken or Turkey Gumbo! I've crafted my own recipe for turkey gumbo inspired by recipes from TV Chefs Alton Brown and Emeril Lagasse.

In case you haven't made gumbo before, it's not difficult and mine only requires 2 "specialty ingredients" and no okra:

  1. FilĂ© Powder - Ground sassafras leaves. It works as an authentic thickener. You can buy it online, but I get mine in bulk at Rainbow Grocery.
  2. Andouille Sausage - I like Aidell's, primarily because it's "less authentic" and real andouille sausage contains nasty bits. It's got a nice smokey taste & fills in where you might only have a little turkey or chicken to make a full meal. I keep it on hand for quick Jambalaya too.
Here are a few strategies I've employed when making gumbo:
  1. I always start by building your roux in the oven. (Thanks Alton!) It's really easy to go past dark & nutty smelling to burnt with oil & flour on the stove top. Using the oven you just start 2 hours before you want to be wrapping up cooking - the first 1.5 hours is nothing but a little whisking while you prep other ingredients.

  2. Use the cajun trinity. A combination of chopped green peppers, onions, and celery.
  3. Brown the veggies in your roux. The smell at this stage is heavenly.
  4. I store my stock in quart jars in the fridge (freezing glass like this is a bad idea) as long as I plan to use it quickly. I use about 1 quart in my gumbo recipe.

  5. I like to store my chicken bits in these nice paper containers, you can get them at Smart & Final. I use them to send leftovers home with guests, or freeze things for later - they're stackable, go from freezer to microwave, store nicely next to my pints of B&J's ice cream in similar containers. The paper lids (sold separately) are easy to write on. When I'm done, I can throw them in the municipal compost. I use glass when I can, but when I can't I prefer these to plastic containers.

1 comment:

  1. Chef Andrea graced me with a serving of her signature gumbo post-Thanksgiving. Scrumptious!