Gumbo: Turkey Bone Gumbo

Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo

Turkey Bone Gumbo

Hey! Got a few minutes to talk about Black Friday? Not shopping. Cooking. I know you’re busy finishing up your Thanksgiving menu, planning that inevitable last minute grocery run and cooking make-ahead sides and sauces. And the last thing on your mind is what’s for dinner on Friday. But this is important, especially if your Turkey Day celebration extends through the weekend like ours does. If you need to plan additional meals for visiting family and want to make the most of leftovers, then save that turkey carcass (or beg the hostess for it) and plan on making a tasty New Orleans Thanksgiving Friday tradition, Turkey Bone Gumbo. In New Orleans, we take the most underappreciated part of Thanksgiving dinner and turn it into a warm and restorative pot of deliciousness. Turkey Bone Gumbo, also known as Turkey Gumbo, Leftover Turkey Gumbo, Leftover Holiday Turkey Gumbo, Leftover Turkey Bone Gumbo and Turkey Bone Thanksgiving Gumbo, is any gumbo made with a dark roux and a rich turkey-bone stock. The gumbo can simmer on the stove all day awaiting exhausted shoppers, wannabe golfers and over-stimulated children.

Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo

Structurally, this gumbo looks a lot like my Chicken and Andouille Gumbo with its poultry and pork.  But it’s distinctively different.  For starters, the stock is infused with familiar flavors from the big feast. Whether roasted, deep fried, infrared, or smoked, the turkey carcass creates an important and exciting layer. Next, the sausage is different. I like to pair chaurice (pronounced, “shore-eese”) with turkey instead of my usual andouille.  Chaurice is a Creole version of the Spanish chorizo.  It’s a highly spiced pork sausage made with vegetables and is sold either fresh or smoked.  If you can’t get your hands on any, chorizo or any good quality hot sausage will do.  Finally, the seasonings. I focus on earthy and smoky elements with the addition of cumin and fIlé powder. Filé (pronounced, “fee lay”) is powdered sassafras leaves most often used to thicken gumbo. I add it to a bunch of recipes, because I love the taste. But its flavor and thickening ability can be compromised if left to boil. So always add it towards the end of the cooking time and slowly reheat any leftovers. You can also dust individual servings with additional fIlé.

I hope you all have a very a Happy Thanksgiving and may the most ambitious family member end up with the turkey bones!

Turkey Bone Gumbo Recipe

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Seasoning Mix
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper

1 turkey carcass
6 quarts water
1 onion, quartered
1 celery rib
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds chaurice sausage or other hot sausage, thinly sliced
1 cup canola oil
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups leftover turkey meat, chopped
1/3 cup green onions
3 tablespoons Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce)
1 tablespoon filé powder
Baked Rice, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, thoroughly combine seasoning mix; set aside.  In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, combine the turkey carcass (if necessary, break apart to fit into pot), water, quartered onion, celery rib and bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for 2 hours.  Strain the stock and return liquid to pot along with any meat that has fallen off the bones; keep warm over low heat.  Meanwhile, spread the sausage on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and baked until browned, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a stack of paper towels to drain; set aside.  In a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, make a roux by heating the oil over high heat.  Gradually add the flour, whisking carefully and vigorously after each addition until smooth.  Continue whisking until the roux is the color of milk chocolate.  Add the onions, bell peppers and celery.  Cook, whisking constantly, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and reserved seasoning mix; cook an additional 2 minutes.  Increase heat on stock to medium-high.  Once stock comes to a strong simmer, gradually add roux mixture, whisking with each addition until dissolved; return to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes.  Add reserved sausage, turkey meat, green onions, Lea & Perrins and filé powder; cook an additional 30 minutes.  Skim off any fat that rises to the top.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve over Baked Rice with lots of French bread and hot sauce options.  Makes 10-12 servings.


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5 Responses
  1. Niki says:

    If only I’d of read this last week…! This looks great and I will definitely plan to make this next time I cook a turkey.

  2. Michelle says:

    Hi, love your blog btw! I tried this today. Kinda got mixed reviews. I am from MS & love cajun food. But I really hated the texture of the sausage for this. I have cooked red beans & rice w/ sausage for many years. And have literally cooked the sausage to death & never pre-cook it. It has always been perfect. I precooked the sausage for this according to the directions & it is very overdone like/ chewy. Did I do something wrong or just picky about the texture of it?

    • Genet says:

      Hey Michelle! So sorry the sausage didn’t work out. I’m not sure what happened. Did you use a fresh or smoked? For this particular gumbo, I use a fresh sausage as opposed to one already smoked and I precook it to get rid of some of the fat that I’d otherwise have to skim from the pot. I hope you’ll give the recipe another try cooking the sausage in the gumbo like you do your red beans. Thanks so much for sharing your concern with me. Merry Christmas!

  3. Syd says:

    One of my Cajun friends made us a big pot of chicken, sausage and turkey neck gumbo last weekend. First time for me to try turkey necks. So, I guess we celebrated a week early.

    BTW, I have found myself cooking for fairly large crowds this past year. I’m in south Mississippi so creole food is dear to our hearts. Your blog is such an inspiration and my go-to for ideas. Keep up the great work and THANK YOU.

    • Genet says:

      I’ve never tried turkey necks, but I’ll bet they are terrific–I love gnawing on the bones! I appreciate your comments Syd. That’s one of the reason I enjoy blogging. Please keep in touch!!