Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cajun Turkey Neck Filé Gumbo

Louisiana Cajun cookin' for Thanksgiving!

     Southern food, country cooking, down home cooking and Cajun cuisine are all the same in one respect.  They can all be called soul food.  It takes heart and soul to cook these styles of food and it does not matter what race, creed or color that you may be part of!  
     Rich folks are rich folks and poor folks are poor folks.  Many times, the rich folk only demand what they deem to be the finer cuts of meat, like turkey breast.  Most regular folk know that turkey breast usually becomes dry and shredded after cooking and it is not the best meat on a turkey.  The best meat on a turkey is actually the dark meat!  The dark meat remains juicy and tender after cooking and it has much more flavor.  
     Turkey neck bones are dark meat.  Turkey neck bones are most commonly used to make turkey gravy.  Around thanksgiving, turkey necks are sold dirt cheap!  Southern cooks, soul food cooks and Cajun cooks figured out long ago that turkey necks have so much flavor, that they can be featured as an entree.  After looking into a few turkey neck recipes for Thanksgiving, two recipes really caught my eye.  One was turkey neck gumbo.  Traditional Cajun cooks make gumbo with turkey necks.  There must have been about 100 Cajun turkey neck gumbo recipes on the internet.
     Now there will be 101 Cajun Turkey Neck Filé Gumbo recipes on the internet!  After running across the idea of this turkey neck gumbo, my tummy made a few growling hunger sounds.  I started thinking that the cartilaginous turkey neck bones could provide some major nutritional value.  There actually is a deceptively large amount of meat on a turkey neck bone.  The meat on a turkey neck bone is easily pulled free after stewing.  The 2 hour long gumbo cooking process involves plenty of stewing.  Hats off to whoever the first Cajun cook was that originally created turkey neck gumbo!  It was a good idea!   

     Cajun Turkey Neck Filé Gumbo:
     This recipe makes enough for two servings!  Gumbo takes about 2 hours to make.  Have all the ingredients ready, before starting the brown roux. 
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 4 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 14 to 16 ounces of turkey necks that are cut into about 2" long pieces. 
     Saute the turkey necks, till they become browned.
     Remove the turkey necks from the pan and place them in a bowl.
     Pour the excess grease out of the pan.
     Add 1/2 cup of water. 
     Deglaze the pan.
     Pour the deglace jus over the turkey necks in the bowl and set it aside.
     Place 1/2 cup of small diced celery in a separate bowl. 
     Add 1 cup of small diced onion.
     Add 1/2 cup  of small diced green bell pepper. 
     Set the trinity vegetables aside.  (The Louisiana trinity is 1 part bell pepper, 1 part celery and 2 parts onion.)
     Heat a sauce pot over medium/ medium high heat.
     Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring.
     Constantly stir the roux, till the roux cooks to a reddish chocolate brown color.  (If you stop stirring, the roux will burn and it must be discarded.)
     When the roux turns a dark brown color, immediately add the diced celery, onions, peppers.  (This will stop the roux from cooking any further.)
     Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Add 2 chopped green onions.
     Add 1 chopped seeded green serrano pepper.
     Stir the vegetables with the roux, till they start to cook.
     Add 5 cups of light chicken stock.
     Stir till the gumbo starts to thicken.
     Bring the gumbo to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature low heat.
     Add the sauteed turkey necks and the deglace jus.
     Add 5 ounces of thick half moon shaped slices of andouille sausage.
     Add 1 diced Roma tomato.  (The tomato is optional in a Cajun gumbo, but the acid from a tomato will break down the connective tissue in the neck bones and more nutrition will be released.)
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add sea salt.
     Simmer the gumbo for 45 minutes and stir occasionally.  Allow the liquid to slowly reduce.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  (Add enough to suit your own level of spicy heat!)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of paprika.
     Raise the temperature to medium low heat.  
     Simmer the gumbo for about 15 minutes.
     Add 3 pinches of chopped Italian parsley.
     Add 1 cup of thick sliced okra.
     Simmer and reduce the gumbo for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
     Stir the gumbo occasionally as it simmers.
     Cook 2 portions of plain white rice in a separate pot, while the gumbo is simmering.
     The gumbo should have a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Add water or light chicken stock, if the gumbo becomes too thick.
     Cajun Turkey Neck Filé Gumbo Presentation:
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Filé powder just before serving.  (Ground sassafras leaves.)
     Use a ring mold to place a portion of rice in a shallow stew bowl.
     Ladle a portion of the Cajun Turkey Neck Filé Gumbo around the rice in the bowl.
     Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig. 

     Rich delicious and satisfying!  There is no end to the great flavor of this Cajun Turkey Neck Filé Gumbo.  Yum!  ...  Shawna 

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