Merry Christmas Eve! Today might just be my favorite day of the whole year… there’s something about the “night before,” with its twinkling lights and magical sense of anticipation that just might even trump Christmas Day for me. We’ll be spending a lazy day together — a long bundled up-walk around the neighborhood, mimosa brunch and then dinner at my parents (we’re sticking with a Mexican theme this year — tamales and tortilla soup!) On this cozy day full of tradition, we asked Elizabeth to stop by for our last installment of 12 Tastes of Christmas to share her family’s favorite holiday food ritual. And what a yummy one it is… take it away, E!
*photography by Thomas Winslow
For our annual Christmas Day brunch, I start early. And by early, I mean Thanksgiving. As soon as the table is cleared, I pack up what’s left of the turkey into the freezer, and on Christmas Eve, I take it out to make a turkey gumbo. I want this meal to be special, but I definitely don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen, so I shop for fancy bread at Easy Tiger and decadent winter cheeses and charcuterie at Antonelli’s and chill plenty of sparkly cava. With a simple meal, I love to splurge on the ingredients. We gather around noon to share stories and a relaxing mid-day meal; once all the gifts have been exchanged and we’ve had our fill of bubbly and warm, spicy gumbo, we all pile into the car and head out to the movies. It’s a rare treat to spend a lazy day with the people you love most in the world—it’s my favorite gift of all.
Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo for Christmas Day
* If you didn’t save your turkey carcass this year, you can use two whole chickens instead—just boil gently until cooked and pick the meat off.
- Carcass from roasted turkey (pick off as much meat as possible and set aside)
- 1 c. flour
- 1 c. peanut oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 2-3 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced thin
- 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- dash of Tabasco to taste
- Place turkey carcass in the largest pot you have and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about an hour. Remove bones and discard (you can leave any bits of meat and herbs in the pot).
- In a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, whisk together flour and oil. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until roux is a deep, dark brown. Remove from heat and add onions, celery, peppers, green onions, and garlic, stirring so that all the vegetables are covered with roux. Scrape this mixture into the turkey stock, add bay leaves, and bring gumbo to a simmer.
- Brown sausage in a medium to large skillet and add to the gumbo, along with any reserved turkey. Simmer for about an hour, until thickened, then taste and season with salt, pepper and Tabasco as desired. Serve with hot jasmine rice and platters of good bread, cheese and charcuterie.
*photography by Thomas Winslow
See more of Elizabeth’s work at Making Groceries