I created this costal Lowcountry inspired chowder shortly after enjoying a bowl of delicious Geechee style brown oyster stew over Thanksgiving break. (Geechee cuisine helped shape what southern food was and is across the United States).
I wanted to cook a dish over the holiday that paid homage to what I imagine folks were eating on the coast of America century's ago (with my own additions as well). Wild turkeys were eaten, oysters were abundant and true wild rice was being harvested and consumed. You can purchase real wild rice online, but I used modern wild rice due to its wide availability.
What I ended up with is a soul warming hybrid of sorts that use cooking techniques found in stews, chowders and bisques. I finish off this dish with the addition of benne seed flour. You can also use store bought sesame seed flour. If you already have sesame seeds, you can toast them in a pan, let them cool and then grind them in a spice/coffee grinder.
There is no specific recipe for the smoked turkey legs use here. You're just wanted a nice smoke on them before simmering. They will be cooked until tender, shredded and added to the chowder. The smoked turkey leg broth will be used as well.
You can make this chowder the day before eating. Just make sure you do not add the oysters until the day of consuming. Just add the oysters to the chowder after it has been heated. You only want the oysters just heated through so that they don't become tough.
This chowder makes for good leftovers. However I highly recommend eating all of the oysters the day that they are cooked. Leftover oysters are not great to eat.
For the Smoked Turkey Stock:
2 smoked wild Turkey legs
1/2 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
Water to cover
For the Stew:
4 slices smoked bacon, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons (half stick) butter
1 onion, small dice
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups russet potatoes, peeled and 1/2 inch dice
2 cups half and half
2 1/4 cups smoked turkey keg stock
1/4 cup oyster liquor
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (follow directions on your package)
8 to 12 ounces shucked oysters, drained and reserved liquid
Shredded smoked turkey leg meat
1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons toasted and ground sesame seeds or benne seed flour
Make the stock. In a large pot add all of the ingredients for the turkey stock. Cover with water. The water level should be a few inches above the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook until the turkey meat is falling off th e bone. This can take between 2 and 4 hours. Strain and discard the vegetables while reserving the cooking liquid. Shred the turkey meat and place in your refrigerator for later. Discard the turkeys bones. You'll need about 2 1/4 of the stock for the stew plus a little more to thin out if needed.
Start the stew. In a large pot over medium heat, add the chopped bacon and cook until browned and the fat has rendered. Set the bacon aside while reserving about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot. You'll be using the cooked bacon to garnish later.
Turn the heat to medium low. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are soft, stirring every minute or so. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Place the mixture in a container (you'll be adding them back later).
Add the butter to the pot and melt. Add the flour and stir until there are no lumps. Cook until the flour has lightly browned. Add the half and half while stirring and whisk while ensuring there are no lumps. Add the smoked turkey stock and oyster liquor while whisking.
Add the potatoes and cooked mushroom/onion mixture. Adjust your stoves heat until you reach a slow simmer. Cook until the potatoes are just fork tender (aldente).
Add the cooked wild rice, shredded turkey meat and the ground sesame seeds. Cook at a slow simmer for about 8 minutes while gently stirring often.
Season to taste with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add the sherry of using.
Turn off the heat. Add the oysters to the stew and gently stir until they are incorporated. You're wanting the oysters just heated through.
Garnish each bowl with the cooked bacon, chives, green onion and hot sauce.