One thing you quickly learn about preparing game meat—be it red meat or fowl—is that it is almost always very lean and therefore dry. For too many years the idea of a low-fat or completely non-fat meal has been the diet du jour. Fact is, we need some fat in our diets, and meat can be pretty dry and tasteless without a little fat. Wild turkey is typically quite dry as it comes off the bird. Sure, you can roast it and make it decent by adding supplemental fats, but for those of us who appreciate a bit of spice in our meals, a Cajun-style turkey gumbo will be a big hit at a spring dinner table.
I’ll warn you at the get-go: Making the roux can be a bit labor intensive, but after that the recipe is pretty simple, and with the gumbo over some long-grain and wild rice—well, don’t expect to have leftovers. Here is a great way to serve up that great big, old longbeard.
Put together the following ingredients:
1 1/8 cups vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 bay leaves
6 cups turkey stock
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped leftover turkey
1 tablespoon filé powder (If you like your gumbo really spicy, you can double this)
1 3/4 cups uncooked long-grained and wild rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions
Stir oil and flour together in a large, heavy-bottomed pot—I use a 5-quart Dutch oven to spread out the heat and keep the roux from burning—over medium heat. Cook, stirring slowly and constantly to keep the roux from burning, until the mixture becomes a dark chocolate brown, about 25 minutes. In the meantime, put the turkey stock in a slow cooker or crock pot and begin to heat it slowly. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers and the roux all at once to the turkey stock, and continue to stir until vegetables are wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne pepper.
Stir in the smoked sausage and bay leaves, and continue to stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Put on high heat until the gumbo comes to a soft boil; then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Stir in the turkey and the filé powder; simmer for 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before serving, bring the rice and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. If you have one, a rice cooker helps a lot and does the job much quicker.
Skim off any fat that rises to the surface of the gumbo; remove from heat. Stir in the parsley and green onions. Remove the bay leaves, and serve the gumbo in deep bowls with rice.