Most people feel pretty passionately about their holiday food and these feelings are often extended—and even amplified—when it comes to the leftovers. Remember Ross Geller’s breakdown over his lost Thanksgiving sandwich in “Friends?” Or the father’s turkey obsession in “A Christmas Story” and the disappointment over all the lost meals when it was ruined by the neighbor’s dogs?
Living in #OnlyLouisiana, our Thanksgiving resurrection is most often a turkey gumbo—and we do indeed feel VERY strongly about it. In fact, I would argue it’s really your best transformative leftover option. By late November, it’s (hopefully) true gumbo weather, cold and dark—perfect for cozying up with a warm bowl of Cajun comfort food. Also, nothing goes to waste, as a gumbo not only takes advantage of any leftover meat, but the carcass become a rich, flavorful stock. It yields a large amount so it’s perfect if your Thanksgiving guests are staying through the weekend, and it freezes beautifully for quick meals during the busy holiday season. Lastly, if you’re planning a traditional Christmas Eve gumbo, this is great practice to hone a largely seasonal skill.
Below is my husband’s approach to turning turkey-day leftovers into a variation of the official state meal. He’s the gumbo chef in our household, and turkey is one of his favorite proteins. He typically fries our Thanksgiving birds, but however you cook yours, its leftovers can join a dark roux, sausage and the holy trinity for a second meal sure to rival the original holiday feast.
Inspired? Start with one of our favorite gumbo recipes, just switch out the chicken breasts for your leftover turkey meat and replace the chicken stock with the homemade turkey one below. You can also take a quick refresh on how to make a roux. Be sure to share your culinary adventures on social media and tag #TasteLouisiana.
Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Stock
- From your leftover Thanksgiving turkey, remove as much meat as possible and set aside for the gumbo. Place the bones on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20-25 minutes at 450 degrees.
- After roasting, put the bones in a 5-quart or larger stock pot with a quartered onion, carrots and celery. Add two or three smashed garlic cloves, two bay leaves and some salt and pepper to season. Add 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a simmer and maintain by turning to a lower heat. Skim the fat from surface. Let stock reduce for 2-3 hrs.
- Pass the mixture through a fine strainer and then it’s ready to add to your gumbo! It can also be refrigerated for five days or frozen for up to six months. Yields 3-3.5 quarts.