Tag Archives: turducken

Now it’s a real Cajun party: Gumbo

“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.”
– Julia Child

Gumbo + turducken = Party!  So dust off those beads and pour yourself a hand grenade.

My trusty co-chef and I decided that we should serve something along with the turducken, in case anyone “doesn’t want to eat frankenbird” (direct quote).  Hence, part of our multi-day poultry/Everest marathon included a pot of homemade gumbo.

I found this recipe from Epicurious for Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Gumbo.  Reading the comments, I discovered that the recipe yielded FAR beyond the 16 servings it described, which seemed just right for our group of 30+.  Plus, you can make the base the night before and then finished as the turducken was finishing.  Excellent.

Like most Cajun/Creole cooking, you start with a roux.  A roux is basically cooking flour in oil and stirring constantly until it turns a dark reddish brown.   Be patient…this process is the essence of Creole/Cajun cooking.  And it’s a cool process at that…flour and oil change into a dark, thick paste.  Roux has a hearty smell to it, adding depth, body, and little spiciness to the base of your gumbo.

Into the roux go all your chopped vegetables: onions, celery, bell peppers.  Stir to coat with the roux and cook until soft.

Action photo!!

Now the seasoning: garlic, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves and wine.  And of course, you only use 1 cup of wine which equals wine leftovers.  Wine leftovers = the best leftovers.

Add the canned tomatoes along with their liquid, chicken broth, and the cut chicken and andouille sausage.   The recipe calls for clam juice, but I could not find it ANYWHERE. I added extra broth.  Oddly enough, clam juice is an ingredient that pops up in recipes every so often and I. Am. Stumped. Anyone have suggestions?

Keep simmering and stirring until the chicken is cooked and then add the okra.  This recipe called for two bags of frozen okra.  I was holding my breath when I walked down the frozen food aisle at the flyover grocery store.  WOO!!  There it was…top shelf in a corner: frozen okra!!  Dump in the okra and cook for about ten minutes.

That is A LOT of gumbo!

Two things to note about the above picture.  1) That is a 15 quart stockpot.  Yeah…they weren’t kidding about this making a lot of gumbo.  2) The clock on the stove says “12:03”.  Yes, that is 12:03AM.  I was cooking gumbo at midnight.

At this point, we let the gumbo cool while we cleaned up the kitchen.  Then the pot got covered and stashed in the fridge overnight.  While I have no scientific evidence to back this up, I think  sitting overnight always makes these kinds of dishes better.

So just in time for the Turducken Cajun Extravaganza, the pot goes back on the stove and some more andouille sausage and the shrimp get added, let it simmer a bit and:

Party in a Pot!

Seriously, tell me that is not the fullest pot ever!  So. Much. Gumbo.Serve it over some steamed rice and your good to go.

So how was it?  I have it on good authority that it was delicious.  A new flyover friend and recent transplant from Alabama acted as our official taste-tester.  His verdict: “It tastes like good gumbo”.  Wooooo!!!

Smile = relief that everything fit in the pot!

Who’s ready for some gumbo!?  All in all, not a difficult dish to make.  Just take your time with the roux and maybe get some help chopping the 22 CUPS of vegetables.  Oh, and enlist an army of friends to help you eat the stuff.

UNFORESEEN BONUS: Learning what actually goes into gumbo.  Obviously, there are a million variations, but it always seemed like an intimidating recipe from another style of cooking.  It was a happy surprise to learn that at any given time, I probably have 85% of the ingredients on hand.

So make up a pot for your next gathering, add a couple of those mixed Hand Grenades and make it a party.

Just remember: eat first, then hand grenades.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

Conquering the Poultry Leviathan: Turducken

“Well, we knocked the bastard off !” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Alright loyal eaters, we’ve arrived at the mother lode of food preparation on the list of 30: the turducken.  We’re talking about 35 pounds of poultry layered like delicious nesting dolls of meat and stuffing.  But brace yourself, the preparation is not pretty.  Or brief.  So you might need snacks for this post.  Actually, skip the snacks and just get a beer.  I will do my best to keep the pictures tasteful and the steps  concise.

Put on your mountain climbing face…turducken is the Everest of the poultry world.

Step 1. Hire a sherpa: Read your recipe (over and over) and plot a strategy.

I got a little help with this challenge.  A friend had convinced me to include turducken on my list, with the promise that he would help me my first go around.  He was the Tenzing Norgay to my Hillary.

Per my friend’s suggestion, we used Paul Prudhomme’s recipe for turducken.  The recipe is incredibly thorough and has ALL the ingredients and steps listed, including for the stuffing(s).  Yes, plural.  Also, the final item on the ingredient list IS  “1 small hammer”.  I warned you it wasn’t pretty.

I’m not even going to attempt to summarize the recipe, but you can see the whole thing here.  I read this recipe over and over in the days before cooking so I would have a big picture idea of the whole process and so I wouldn’t panic from the altitude (altitude/butchering).

Step 2. Assemble your climbing gear: Shop for ingredients and order your birds.

We ordered the birds from a specialty deli and had them defrosted on site.  If you’re local, B&B Deli is the way to go.  Plus, while we were waiting for our birds (and lunch!), I got an appetizer.

A little appetizer while waiting to pick up the turkey.

And yes, that’s a piece of deep fried bacon.  They have EVERYTHING at B&B and it’s locally sourced, nose to tail.  I even spotted the elusive sweetbreads in a freezer case.  Also, I knew we were in the right place when I spotted this:

These guys don't mess around

Step 3. Map out the climb: Set your plan of attack.

The turducken party was set for a Saturday evening.  So, I made the stuffing on a Thursday night, Friday evening was reserved for assembly, and the “bird” cooked for about 8 hours on Saturday.  Yes…that’s three days total.   Take the time to develop your strategy and set up your base camp before you head to the summit.

As my counterpart said, “Turducken is less like cooking and more like staging a military invasion.”

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