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Venison and Black-Eyed Pea Gumbo

Stacy Lyn Harris | www.gameandgarden.com 

venison black-eyed pea gumboMany versions of gumbo contain chicken, shrimp and sausage, but in hunters' households, you will find venison, duck, turkey and pheasant making their way into the gumbo giving much more depth of flavor. In this recipe, venison sausage, shrimp and black-eyed peas are the stars of the show.

Gumbo connoisseurs probably know that gumbos have mainly been divided into two categories, those thickened with file (powdered sassafras) and those thickened with okra. So, which one is the "real" version? Gumbo is a perfect mix of French, West African, and American Indian Cuisine. Each culture has been influenced by what their ancestors taught them and what ingredients they used to thicken it. Although I use okra at times, I particularly love the way file tastes. It has a distinctive earthy flavor and adds color to the gumbo.

Oftentimes folks will just thicken with a roux, but I do both for flavor and texture.

You can find this recipe in my new book, Stacy Lyn's Harvest Cookbook.

Ingredients (serves 16):

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds venison, cut crosswise 1/2-inch thick pieces (You can substitute andouille)
  • 4 pounds turkey breasts, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large onions (about 8 cups), chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers (about 2 cups), chopped
  • 10 stalks celery (about 4 cups), chopped
  • 14 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 pounds dried black-eyed peas
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 4 pounds shrimp (peeled, deveined and shell removed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives plus more for garnish, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup parsley plus more for garnish, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp file powder
  • hot sauce

Preparation Method:

  1. In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage to paper towels and allow to drain. Brown the turkey in batches, removing to a paper towel to drain.
  2. Add the rest of the oil to the pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is smoking, add the flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, bell pepper and celery and cook until the onions are translucent. Stir often for about 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, oregano, sausage, chicken and black-eyed peas then stir for 2 more minutes.
  3. Stirring, slowly add the chicken stock until well-combined. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for one hour. Don't rush this step! To keep the turkey and venison tender, it needs to be on very low heat. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.
  4. Add the shrimp, green onions, parsley and file powder and stir until well-combined.
  5. Serve over rice and garnish with the extra chopped chives and parsley. Season with hot sauce. 

Note: This recipe is best the day you cook it. It's fine the second day, but the black-eyed peas make the gumbo a little creamy.

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