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Playing BBQ Turkey or Chicken Gumbo


  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 to 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 shots bourbon
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds cooked turkey or chicken*, white and dark meat, chopped or pulled (see Heads-up)
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen sliced okra, thawed (optional)
  • Oyster crackers, for serving
  • Thinly sliced scallions, for serving
  • Sliced pickled jalapeños, for serving


Serves: 4-6


In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Melt in the butter. Add the celery, bell pepper, onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, partially covered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir a couple of minutes. Add the bourbon, then the stock. Reduce the heat a bit and cook to thicken.

In a bowl, stir together the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Pour into the gumbo. Stir in the turkey and okra (if using) and simmer to thicken. 

Note: If making ahead, let cool and refrigerate. To serve, return gumbo to room before reheating gently over medium heat. 

Serve in shallow bowls. Top each serving with oyster crackers, scallions and jalapeños

* If you’re making any of these dishes sometime other than post-Thanksgiving – meaning that you don’t have leftover roast turkey on hand – do this: Preheat the oven to 325˚F.  Rub the skin of one or more turkey breast halves (depending on how much meat you need) with butter or oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast until the internal temperature reaches 165˚F -- 1 hour for boneless, 1 to 1 1/2 hours for bone-in.