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Thanksgiving leftovers: Chef Jeff Farmer's turkey gumbo

Thanksgiving leftovers: Chef Jeff Farmer's turkey gumbo


Among the things Roanoke diners are thankful for have been plates emerging from Chef Jeff Farmer’s kitchens. Farmer, who has presided at both Lucky and Fortunato restaurants, says that he is taking a long break, at least, from cooking.

“I am ‘retiring’ for now,” Farmer said in an email exchange. “Life is short and I’ve got a long list of things I want to do that being tied down to a restaurant won’t allow. With that said, I haven’t ruled out doing another project in the future.”

Meanwhile, Lucky is closing its doors in January, to do some renovations and to update menus, cocktails and more.

We asked Farmer to share with us his favorite thing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers. Here is his response.

Turkey Gumbo Z’herbes

“I have been making some version of this for the past three years or more,” Farmer said in an email exchange. “My dad’s family is from Mississippi and I was born in New Orleans. Over the past ten years I have been reconnecting with the area and the food. There are so many styles of gumbo, and it’s hard to find decent gumbo in a restaurant. You have to hunt it out or make it yourself.”

Leftover turkey, pulled

½ cup of fat. It can be butter, vegetable oil, or the fat left over in the pan from roasting the turkey

½ lb. of smoked sausage (preferably andouille, but it’s hard to find this far north, so anything will do)

A good pinch of cayenne

Bay leaves (I use too much, but at least 6 and buy fresh)

2 qt. turkey or chicken stock

Assorted greens. I use a bunch of collards, kale, and mustard, but anything goes. You can throw in some lettuce, cabbage. If it’s leafy you can use it.

1 chopped white onion

2 chopped green bell peppers

2 or 3 chopped celery stalks

3 cloves garlic

Salt to taste

Filé powder


Crystal Hot Sauce

Some leftover stuffing

This is a bastardized version of gumbo z’herbes which is usually made during Lent and Easter, but I love greens so I make a version of it anytime of the year.

First you have to make the roux. How dark you want it is up to you. Anywhere from the color of dark caramel to hot chocolate is my suggestion. Sometimes you burn it and have to start over, but that’s OK. [For the uninitiated, the web is crawling with roux knowledge, including how-to videos. If you’re down to make gumbo, best learn to roux first. — editor]

In a stockpot, cook the onions, peppers, celery and garlic in some oil, fat or butter. Once tender, add the roux. Throw in the turkey, sausage, greens and bay leaves. Give it all a stir to mix it up, and add the stock. Let it simmer for an hour or more. Add salt and cayenne to taste. Ladle it into a bowl, sprinkle a little filé on top. Normally you would top it with rice, but it’s Thanksgiving so throw some stuffing on it. Garnish with scallions and some Crystal, or the hot sauce of your choosing.

This is not so much a recipe as a suggestion.

Satisfy your cravings

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