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Turkey Heresy? Gumbo Instead

November 17, 1994|BEV BENNETT

Thanksgiving turkey reminds me of the television commercial in which people complain to the store manager that the frozen dinner he stocks provides too much food for one person. He responds by generously offering to come to dinner with his family.

Just as this particular brand of frozen dinner isn't designed to be skimpy, neither is a turkey. Anything short of eight guests guarantees leftovers.

You do have an alternative to setting more plates at the dinner table. Use turkey parts, buying only as much as you'll need. Instead of bringing a whole bird to the table, present a delicious turkey gumbo as the entree. The turkey flavor and essence are in the dish and you won't have to face the carcass for the next two weeks.

Turkey gumbo uses smoked turkey drumstick as the base. It should be available in supermarkets this time of the year. If not, buy about eight ounces of smoked turkey, cut it into cubes and follow the directions. Unlike turkey, this gumbo improves in flavor on the second day.


This recipes makes two to four servings, depending upon what other dishes are on the menu. I'd recommend corn bread or muffins; a salad of lettuce, walnuts, goat cheese; cranberry chutney or whole berry cranberry sauce; and pecan tarts for dessert.


4 slices bacon

2 cups okra, caps trimmed off, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 celery stalk, sliced 1/2-inch thick

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon crushed, dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon ground sage

1 bay leaf

1 (1-pound) smoked turkey drumstick

1 cup canned, diced tomatoes, or 1 large, peeled and diced tomato


Freshly ground pepper

Hot cooked rice, optional

Fry bacon in Dutch oven until well-browned. Drain bacon on paper towel-lined plate, then crumble bacon.

Add okra to bacon fat and saute over high heat 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic and celery and. Saute over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook to paste. Stir in chicken broth. Stir well and cook over low heat until smooth and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, thyme, sage and bay leaf. Stir well.

Remove meat from drumstick. Discard skin. Cut meat into bite-size pieces and add to pan along with tomatoes and bacon. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. Simmer another 5 minutes to blend flavors. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over hot cooked rice. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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