It’s that time of year again — Let’s Talk Turkey! More specifically, let’s talk turkey leftovers. While Dan loves the Thanksgiving Day roasted turkey with gravy and traditional trimmings, I usually prefer leftover turkey, creatively transformed into a unique dish. We’ve used turkey in lots of different ways: from soups (turkey barley and tex-mex turkey) to casseroles (turkey tetrazzini and king ranch) to unexpected dishes (enchiladas, paella and stuffed shells.) In light of the upcoming holiday, we’ve got a few more leftover turkey recipes to share, starting with Emeril Lagasse’s “Turkey and Sausage Jambalaya for a Crowd.” (Chef Lagasse isn’t kidding about the “for a crowd” part — we halved the recipe and still had enough for dinner and a couple of lunches.) The recipe is pretty easy to make with basic ingredients: vegetable or canola oil, onion, green bell pepper, celery, garlic, Emeril’s “Essence” (basically a Creole seasoning), salt, pepper, cayenne, bay leaves, kielbasa or andouille sausage, leftover turkey, tomatoes and rice. We used smoked turkey (thawed Greenburg Smoked Turkey from last year — it’s the best!), but regular turkey will also work. Garnished with hot sauce, green onions and parsley, this jambalaya is a deliciously Cajun way to celebrate being thankful.
Chop the onion, green bell pepper and celery. This trio of veggies is known as the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking and serves as the base of many Louisiana specialties.
Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the holy trinity, minced garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, a bay leaf and the “Essence” spice mixture and cook until the vegetables soften and begin to brown — about 15 minutes. Emeril’s “Essence” recipe calls for 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne, 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1 tablespoon dried thyme, all mixed together. This will yield about 2/3 cup of spice mixture, which you can store in an airtight container for later use. We happened to have some of Dan’s own spice mixture (which my brother jokingly calls “Dan the Man” — 2 parts Kosher salt and paprika and 1 part thyme, ground cumin, crushed red pepper, granulated garlic and oregano) that we usually use as a rub for grilled pork or poultry, so we used that instead of making Essence. You could also use a store-bought Creole seasoning.
Add the sausage and cook until they start to brown on the outside — about 7-8 minutes.
Add the chopped turkey and tomatoes (with juices) and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and stir everything together until well mixed.
Add about 4 cups of water.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender — about 35-40 minutes. Check on the jambalaya a couple of times and add more water as needed if most of the liquid is absorbed but the rice isn’t done yet.
When the rice is done, let the jambalaya sit off the heat for about 5-10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Garnish the jambalaya with chopped green onions (green parts) and/or chopped parsley. Add a few dashes of hot sauce (we like “Louisiana Hot” or “Cholula”) for a little extra kick (or “BAM!” as Chef Lagasse would say.)