Duke's Food Obsession
Out of ideas? Here's some tips for turkey leftovers
Is there anything better than a turkey dinner? A great steak, foie gras any which way, killer spareribs or fresh fried chicken may compete, but better? Nope. On Thanksgiving Day, after our annual Turkey Bowl touch-football game with friends, the holy grail awaits in pounds of butter disguised as mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy made from actual turkey fat drippings and real turkey stock, that 70s era green bean thing, and oh yes, the bird itself.
This gets even better the next day, doesn’t it? I think turkey dinner is like a great pot roast—the flavors meld overnight and it just tastes better. And it’s microwavable, of course, a plus the day after you have slaved over a huge dinner. But, on the third day, then what? Pretty quickly it becomes fourth-down-and-turkey and you run out of options, motivation, or both. Plus, the turkeys these days are rarely less than 600 pounds so you almost always have leftovers.
(Actually, the deep discounts on turkeys during this time of year invite you to over buy and I do. Often I buy two or three and freeze. Often, on one of them, I sacrifice all but the breast to make quite a bit of rich turkey stock that I use for gravy, and freeze for later use. The breast on this one I roast for sandwiches. And, no, I am not going to debate the ethics of buying birds bred to have such abnormally large breasts that they can no longer mate normally. To you, I invite you to order a heritage bird at www.heritagefoodusa.com. Or contact a local farmer about purchasing a turkey.)
So, turkey leftovers. Here are some ideas:
Turkey Enchiladas. You can make a white sauce, use canned enchilada sauce, flour or corn tortillas. My favorite is to make an unauthentic yet delicious sauce using beef stock thickened with a roux, and bumped up in flavor with canned chipotles en adobo. Fill corn tortillas with sauce and jack cheese.
White Trash Lasagna. This I made one year and it has become a family favorite. Simply make lasagna using noodles, mashed potatoes, turkey and stuffing. Sure, throw in some green beans. For sauce – you guessed it: gravy. Pull it all together with cheese. Inspired white trash food.
Pot Pie. You can use a frozen pie shell, but it’s better to use a deeper oven-ready serving vessel and buy frozen puffed pastry at the store. Roll this pastry out and cut it to fit over the top of the vessel. Presto.
Turkey Tetrazzini. This beehive-haircut-era casserole still works. Basically it’s turkey, mushrooms and bell pepper bound together with a béchamel or white sauce mixed with noodles and baked. I omit the bell peppers because they give me the willies, and top the whole thing with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Soup. The last bastion of turkey leftover creations. My father used to make a soup whereby he threw the whole carcass in a pot with celery, onions and carrots. Once it had cooked for a while, he threw in some rice and served a large portion, bones and all. This serving method works beautifully with something like cioppino, with crab legs, etc. With turkey bones, it is downright scary. My mother used to make so much fun of him, he would get really upset. I am not sure if that caused the divorce, or not, but it didn’t help. I prefer to take all the meat off of the bones and make a rich stock. Then I roast some poblano peppers, some tomatoes, onions, and ancho chilis. I add these to the stock, with the turkey and top the soup with home fried or bagged tortilla chips, cotija cheese, and avocado and lime juice. This turkey tortilla soup is a light, delicious end to a food-filled weekend.