When people think about Creole cuisine, they often think of the staples: gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée. While they're all delicious, they just scratch the surface of what's on the Creole dinner table.
Seafood plays a big part in our cuisine, but poultry is just as important. In the old days and in more rural parts of the South, hunting wild turkeys was one way to secure food for the family. The "prime" cuts of the turkey (breast, drumsticks, etc.) are turned into delectable eats, but the wings go through the most succulent transformation. Sure you can create a stock with the wings, but the real magic comes from stuffing it and smothering it.
Stuffing and smothering meats is an easy way to make a not so plump cut of meat more hearty. Turkey wings are no exception. In the case of this recipe, we're stuffing the turkey wings with the Creole holy trinity: bell pepper, celery and onions. The steps require a little extra love and patience, but I promise the first bite will convince you it's all worth it.
Creole Stuffed Turkey Wings
3-4 whole turkey wings, divided into drumettes, mid-sections and wing tips
2 tbsp. Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's or homemade)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
3 sprigs of thyme
3 sprigs of parsley
2 bay leaves
8 cups turkey or chicken stock
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
Freshly cooked long grain white rice (for serving)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes
Total Time: 95 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
Special Equipment: Dutch oven pot, slotted spoon and medium sauce pan
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Pat the turkey dry and sprinkle the drumettes and mid-sections with Cajun seasoning. Set the wing tips aside.
Heat the Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat, and then add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the wing pieces to sear for about 2-3 minutes per side. You may need to work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. Remove from the pot and let cool.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the diced onions, celery, and bell pepper. Stir until the onions turn translucent and then add the garlic to cook for another 30 seconds. Feel free to add more Creole seasoning during this time. Continue stirring until all the vegetables are browned. Turn the heat off and remove the trinity mixture to let cool on a plate.
On a clean cutting board, use a sharp knife to cut a slit lengthwise into the center of the turkey drumettes and mid-sections. Use your fingers to pull the skin and some of the flesh back and proceed to stuff with as much vegetable mixture as you can.
When finished stuffing, place the reserved wing tips, sliced onion, celery and carrot in the bottom of the pot. If you have any leftover stuffing, you can add it in at this point. Place the stuffed wings on top. To avoid fishing for herbs later on, make a bouquet garni (herb bundle) with the thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Add to the pot and pour enough turkey or chicken stock to cover the wings. Put the lid on the pot and place in the oven to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes without opening.
After this time has elapsed, remove the pot from the oven and test the wings for pull apart tenderness with a fork. They may need more time in the oven, depending on the size of your wings. Once done, remove the wings and place on a platter to keep warm.
If you don't want celery and carrot pieces in your gravy, remove them from your pot with a slotted spoon. Keep the pot of gravy simmering over medium heat.
In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the vegetable oil. Once hot, add the flour and continuously whisk to make a roux. Get your roux to a nice brown color. I usually take mine to the color of a chocolate bar, but I went for the color of peanut butter this time.
Once you've reached your desired color, turn off the heat and quickly (but carefully) add about a cup of the simmering gravy to the sauce pan. Be careful as this can sputter and splash outside of the sauce pan. The mix will quickly seize up and get to the consistency of mashed potatoes or refried beans.
At this point, add the roux into the gravy and stir until the roux is fully incorporated and there are no lumps. Bring the gravy to a boil, until it reaches the thickness you want. If you find it's not thickening up enough, you can add a corn starch slurry to the pot. Adjust for any seasonings before turning off the heat.
If you're super hungry and can't wait, make a plate of rice topped with a wing and pour the gravy on top. If you have a little more time, add the wings back into the pot of gravy and let them cook over medium-low heat for another 10 minutes.
You'll likely have extra gravy, which goes great with plain rice or on a pile of mashed potatoes. The choice is yours!