Sick of turkey yet? Chances are good you’ve gotten through all of your thanksgiving leftovers by now, but if you were smart, you saved that carcass. And there’s still plenty of goodness to mine from that pile of bones.
I made gumbo sometime over the summer, so already had a bunch of foundational items leftover in the freezer. But I’d say some of these are optional, but also mostly easily procured at your grocery. When summer was still on and okra prices were as a low as a dollar a pound, I blanched and froze a couple of quarts of them to eventually end up in a gumbo sometime over the winter. After stockpiling shrimp shells for the better part of a year last year, I also had an ample supply of shrimp stock made from boiling the shells from about 2 pounds of shrimp for more than half and hour. And I still had one lonely andouille link leftover from the first go-round. I even had some leftover pickled shrimp from thanksgiving that ended up in the pot.
But back to that turkey carcass. And a bag full of vegetable scraps – mostly celery, onion, parsnips, and parsley, again leftover from the many thanksgiving sides we prepared. Besides being the base for a ton of stock, you’ll also be surprised how much meat you’ll end up with when your stock is done. Brown the bones, skin, and other turkey scraps in your largest stock pot. Throw in your vegetable scraps and cover with water. I used close to 15 quarts of water that reduced by a couple of quarts by the end. Simmer – somewhere between 180 and 200 degrees – for a long time. I went about 5 hours because I still had dinner to make, but you could go for much longer. Strain it with a fine mesh strainer and strip the bones of all its meat. I ended up with nearly 2 pounds.
But, now onto the gumbo. First off, get a roux going. Equal parts fat and flour that cooks for a while and takes on glorious colors and flavors. I used about 4 tablespoons each of bacon grease and flour and cooked this very slowly for about half an hour, stirring very often. But you could and should go much longer and darker than I did. Then add your stocks and any additional spices (i.e. Old Bay, file gumbo, pimenton, cayenne) and boil for a while till it thickens, at least another 30 minutes. Make sure to whisk in all of that roux. Once it’s thickened up, start adding all of your remaining ingredients – shredded turkey, shrimp, andouille, okra, and anything else you got laying around that might be good in that pot. 5-10 minutes later when your shrimp is cooked and everything is heated through, the gumbo is ready.
Turkey & Shrimp Gumbo
- 4 tablespoons fat (turkey, butter, bacon grease, whatever you’ve got)
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 3 qt of stock (turkey, shrimp, chicken, veg, water, whatever you’ve got)
- 1/2# andouille
- 2# leftover turkey
- 1# shrimp, cut into bitesize pieces if they’re big ones
- 1# okra, cut into bitesize pieces
- Make a roux. Over low to medium low heat whisk the flour into your hot fat. Stirring often, cook for at least 30 minutes until the roux darkens. The darker the better, but don’t burn it.
- Turn the heat up to medium high and whisk in all of the stock and boil it till it thickens. At least 30 minutes.
- Once your stock is to the desired thickness, turn down the heat to a simmer and throw in the remaining ingredients to cook or heat through, another 5-10 minutes.
Nose-to-tail, the tradition of using the entirety of a slaughtered animal is nothing new. Nor is the frugal nature of the home cook (which I strive to be) who makes the most of everything they can. But this technique was completely new to me. Taking the scraps from a peach canning project that were destined for the compost (or worse, trash can) and turning them into utter indulgence is a thing of beauty.
Last weekend, we headed to our favorite u-pick farm to get a mess load of peaches to last us through the year until next peach season. A bushel or about 50 pounds, doubling last year’s half-bushel. About 25 pounds of those peaches ended up in quart jars – 11 to be exact. And if you’ve ever canned peaches before, you know the best way to do it is to quickly blanch and peel them. Well, 25 pounds of peaches begat about 5 pounds of peels. Well, not exactly. But you try peeling 25 pounds of peaches in one shot. By the end, you too might start using a knife on the tough-to-peel ones and end up with a little bit of flesh attached to those peels.
Five pounds is a lot of anything just to throw away, so thanks to the peach peel butter recipe, that 25 pounds of peaches that begat 5 pounds of peels (and some sugar and time) begat another 7 cups of a beautiful amber, slightly sweet peach butter that is a thing of beauty. Note, there’s no actual butter in a fruit butter. I imagine you could turn this into jam with some pectin, but I’m happy with what I’ve got.
peach peel butter
I tweaked a few things with the original recipe. I used much less sugar. To the 5 pounds of peels, I added about 2 1/2 pounds of sugar. And I used a 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid, because I didn’t have any lemons, and because, well, I have citric acid. I then simmered this for 8 hours till it all broke down. A full work day. I put it on the stove at the beginning of my work-from-home day, stirring and tasting every once and while, and took it off the heat at the end of my day. (I’d guess you could probably use a slow-cooker instead of the stove.) I ended up with 7 cups, 5 of which went into 8 oz. jelly jars to be processed in a water bath for 10 minutes. (The Ball Book lists 10 minute processing time for their fruit butters, so I’ll take the chance.) The other 2 went straight into a pint jar for the fridge. Imagine this stuff on ice cream or in or on a pie or on toast or just from a spoon straight from the jar. Good stuff.
So, there you have it, real pit-to-peel cooking.
half pints of peach peel butter
Another in my series of simple recipes with lots of variation – a basic spicy, grainy, beer-based mustard that is versatile in all sorts of ways. Hot dogs and sausages, corned beefs sandwiches, encrusted fish, soft pretzels, salad dressing. You name it. Play with the seasonings and alter to your tastes or the final application.
the sum of its parts - a whole lot of mustard
The gist of the recipe is this – put everything in a jar, let it sit for 2 days to soften the mustard seeds, then blend for several minutes to the desired consistency.
This recipe’s going to make about 3 cups of mustard, so consider making a 1/2 or 1/3 batch. But, this stuff survives the passage of time quite nicely. Keep in mind, in the first couple of days, this will be pretty intensely spicy and, well, mustardy. After a couple of days it’ll mellow out.
hibernating for a couple of days
My variation for this batch were an old bottle of Bell’s HopSlam – an intense imperial IPA that comes around only once a year, smoked salt, and a few dashes of cayenne. I used about 2/3 brown mustard seeds, and 1/3 yellow. And half the vinegar was cider vinegar for some sweetness and the other half was red wine.
- 12 oz. beer (whatever you’ve got, dark is good but not a necessity)
- 1 c. vinegar (red wine, white wine, cider, again, whatever, just not balsamic)
- 1 1/2 c. mustard seeds (brown and/or yellow)
- 1 1/4 tbsp. salt
- up to 2 tsp. of any other seasonings (think spicy like clove, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper)
- place all ingredients in a quart-sized jar, cover, and leave to sit on counter for at least a couple of days to soften mustard seeds
- after 2 days, blend with hand bender or food processor for several minutes till you achieve the consistency you want – go smooth or leave it grainy
makes 3c. of mustard