|Who in the world can argue that holiday meals, complete with turkey and dressing, are a wonderful thing to experience?
But for generations the problem of what to do with the leftovers has plagued us like fruit flies on over ripe bananas.
Sure, the second meal, even the third, is generally just as good as the first. But before long the taste of sweet turkey or the smell of honey-glazed ham looses its holiday appeal and we are faced with freezing the leftovers, feeding them to the dog, or tossing them out with the morning's garbage.
The process seems to work faster if you're living in an RV. There's nothing like the same old nightly menu to burn you out and force you, against your will, into dining at fast food joints dotted along the Interstate.
We don't have an ultimate answer or solution to the problem. But we can offer a couple of after-holiday recipes that can make life a little tastier on the road. Whip these up with a little TLC in the kitchen and serve 'em up for lunch, dinner or a casual afternoon snack to warm the bones on a cold winter day. Soups on!
Leftover Turkey Gumbo Soup
6 quarts turkey stock, made from your leftover turkey carcass
1 cup flour
1 cup oil (but if you really want to be decadent, use bacon fat)
1 pound leftover turkey meat, white and/or dark, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 pound andouille or smoked sausage
2 pounds shrimp
2 pounds okra, sliced
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
several cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Creole seasoning to taste, OR
black, white and cayenne peppers, to taste
Few dashes Tabasco, or to taste.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
hot Louisiana long-grain rice
Blend oil (or bacon fat) and flour thoroughly in a thick skillet and cook over medium-high to high heat, stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn it. If you start to see lots of black specks in the roux, throw it away and start over. Keep cooking and stirring until the roux gets darker and darker. It's best to use a very heavy pot or skillet for roux-making, especially cast iron. With a good cast iron Dutch oven or skillet, you can get a beautiful dark roux in only about 20 minutes. If you prefer a blond or medium roux, cut down on the amount of roux you use; dark roux does not have as much thickening effect since the starch is so thoroughly cooked. Turn the fire down or off as the roux nears the right color, because the heat from the pan will continue cooking it. You can also add your onions, bell peppers and celery to the roux as it's near the end of cooking to arrest the cooking process and to soften the vegetables (I like to do it this way, and I recommend it). Keep stirring until the roux is relatively cool. Add the roux to the stock.
Slice the andouille or smoked sausage and brown, pouring off all the fat. Saute the onions, green onions, bell pepper and celery if you haven't already added them to the roux, and add to the stock. Add the sausage. Add the bay leaves and Creole seasoning (or ground peppers) to taste and stir. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer; let simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep tasting and adjusting seasonings as needed.
Add the okra and cook another 30 minutes or so. Make sure that the "ropiness" or "stringiness" from the okra is gone, then add the parsley and the reserved turkey meat. Simmer for another 15 minutes, then add the shrimp. Give it another 5-6 minutes or so, until the shrimp are just done, turning pink. Be very careful not to overcook the shrimp; adding the shrimp should be the last step. Adjust seasonings, adding salt, pepper and perhaps Tabasco as needed. Remember that gumbo shouldn't be too spicy hot. If there is any fat on the surface of the gumbo, try to skim off as much of it as possible. Serve generous amounts in bowls over hot rice. Sprinkle about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of gumbo file in your individual serving; just remember not to put it in the pot and cook it with the gumbo; it doesn't work, and will make the gumbo stringy.
Mom's Turkey Soup Recipe
The first step is to make the stock, which you can get started on right after dinner.
1) Remove all the usable turkey meat from the turkey carcass to save for making sandwiches later or for adding to the soup.
2) Put the leftover bones and skin into a large stock pot and cover with water. Add any drippings that weren't used to make gravy, any veggies like celery, onion, or garlic (not stuffing) that had been in the cavity of the turkey, and any giblets (except liver) that haven't been used already.
3) Add salt and pepper, about 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper. It sort of depends on how big your turkey is. You can always add salt to the soup later.
4) Bring to a boil and reduce heat to bring the stock to a low simmer.
5) Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occassionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface. Often, if we start the soup in the evening, we'll simmer for several hours, turn off the heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and leave on the stove for the night. In the morning, we turn the heat back on and bring the soup up to a simmer again. (Reheating the soup this way, and bringing it to a high simmer for at least 10 minutes will kill any microbes that may have made their way into the soup.)
6) Remove the bones and strain the stock.
7) If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by simmering a few hours longer to make it more concentrated and easier to store.
Making the Turkey Soup
Prepare the turkey soup much as you would a chicken soup. With your stock already made, add chopped carrots, onions, and celery in equal parts. Add some parsley, a couple cloves of garlic. You can add rice, noodles, or even leftover mashed potatoes (or not if you want the low carb version). Take some of the remaining turkey meat you reserved earlier, shred it into bite sized pieces and add to the soup. You may also want to add some chopped tomatoes, either fresh or canned. Add seasoning - poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram and/or a bouillion cube. Add salt and pepper to taste.