Matt Moore, Southern Eats & Drinks Expert
As a cook, I often get asked what my last meal would be. For some people, that question could take a lot of thought and consideration, but for me, it’s an easy one.
I’d want gumbo—but I want it on two conditions:
- I have to make it.
- It’s accompanied by a shot of Dixie Vodka.
As it stands, gumbo is a regional favorite that’s been around for hundreds of years. While some trace its origins to Africa and elsewhere, it is most strongly rooted with the Acadian culture that settled into the low-lying areas of Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama.
For me, gumbo is the perfect dish. Its base is a roux, and while simple, if you can’t nail the roux, you will never have good gumbo. Creole versions tend to be a bit lighter in color (think milk chocolate), while the Cajuns continue to skillfully cook their roux until nearly black and deeply nuanced with rich flavor. For those wondering, a roux is made by combining equal parts (by weight, not volume) of flour and fat (butter, oil, shortening, etc.). Over a low flame, you carefully stir the concoction together until it reaches the right consistency. I say carefully because Chef Paul Prudhomme once referred to it as “Cajun Napalm”—and if you spill a bit on you, you will understand what he means (but nothing a shot or two of Dixie can’t help).
The other part I love about the dish is that it can be made with whatever ingredients you have. For example, take my leftover smoked turkey from last week’s Thanksgiving. After boiling the carcass to create a rich stock, you simply pull the meat off the bone and fold it together with vegetables and your roux to create a comforting gumbo that stretches the life of that ole bird a few times.
Gumbo welcomes more than turkey and sausage, which makes it great for entertaining. You can add anything from seafood, to rabbit, to crawfish, to veggies, and everything in between.
The next time you are wondering what to serve up for that big game or special occasion, make it as good as your last meal: gumbo. Oh, and best include a big ole batch of Dixie Southern Spiced Cider to please the crowd, too.
Smoked Turkey + Andouille Sausage Gumbo
- 40 oz. of turkey stock (made with 1 smoked turkey carcass with meat remaining)
- 0.5 c. flour
- 0.5 c. vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes
- 6 oz. beer (your choice)
- 1.5 tsp. creole seasoning
- 0.5 lb. fresh okra, ends trimmed and cut
- 1.5 tbl. Louisiana hot sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- Hot rice, to serve
- Sliced scallion, to garnish
- Add turkey carcass, breaking apart if necessary, into an 8 qt. Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 hours, skimming foam and fat, as necessary. Remove carcass from stock and reserve, pulling the meat off for later use.
- Over medium-low heat, combine flour and oil in Dutch oven to make roux. Stir CONSTANTLY to prevent burning until roux is thick and dark, caramel brown for about 45 mins…. drink a shot of Dixie Vodka or two.
- Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring on occasion over medium heat until tender, about 10 mins. Add garlic, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, then beer to deglaze, scrapping up bits from bottom of pan with wooden spoon. Add stock, bay leaves, and hot sauce, and bring to simmer. Taste, adding a bit more seasoning (salt), if needed. Feel free to splash a few more dashes of hot sauce if “flat.”
- Add okra and simmer 15 minutes. Add reserved sausage and turkey and simmer until okra is tender, skimming (discarding) the foam and oil off the top of the gumbo liquid.
- Serve with rice and garnish with scallions.
Southern Spiced Cider
- 1/2 bottle Dixie Southern Vodka
- 1/2 bottle Dixie Black Pepper Vodka
- 5 c. cranberry juice
- 1.5 c. simple syrup
- 5 cans (16 oz. each) dry hard cider
- 3 lemons
- 3 limes
Chill vodka, cranberry juice, and dry hard cider. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large punch bowl. Top with hard cider, and garnish with sliced lemons and limes. Serve with ladle.