Friday, December 3, 2010

Turkey, turkey, turkey

Well you’ve probably used up all your leftover turkey by now, so these recipes might be moot, but I’ll share them anyway.

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday.  I enjoy Halloween too, but in a very different more casual way.  To me Thanksgiving is a beautiful thing.  It welcomes all – all nationalities, all religions (or lack there of), all socio-economic groups, all walks of life.  All one needs to be included in Thanksgiving, is something to be thankful for.  And all one needs to celebrate the occasion is a feast.

I’ve had my share of Thanksgivings without turkey and I enjoyed them just the same.  I mean I like turkey, so I enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving with it, but it’s really not necessary.  The only reason we eat turkey is because it was proliferant and indigenous to the north east at the time of the supposed first Thanksgiving.  But truly at its base Thanksgiving is a harvest feast and a time to say thanks. So long as you feast upon whatever is proliferant and indigenous to where you are, you are celebrating within a traditional scope.

I had a lovely Thanksgiving (despite the worst traffic I’ve encountered in years) and a delicious feast, pulled together from several sources.  And as is tradition almost as much as the feast itself I was sent home with leftovers.  And truly I have lots to be thankful for, as I was blessed with the most valuable of all the leftovers – the turkey carcass.  Somehow in fact (was it cut in half?) two carcasses.  One had lots of glorious breast meat still on it; the other was carved as much as it could be.  But carving a turkey only yields you the lovely slices that look nice on the serving platter.  There was still plenty of wonderful turkey in odd shapes clinging to awkward bits of bone.

So over the long weekend I enjoyed the usual leftover treats – turkey sandwiches.  And few bits of just straight turkey.  And turkey & egg (& left over spinach) breakfast sandwiches.  But why stick with the straight & narrow?  Chipotle turkey nachos turned out delicious too. 

The nachos weren’t my idea, but rather my beau’s.  Well he just wanted nachos.  I think I might have been the one to say “turkey would be fine on nachos; we don’t need to buy meat.” And the chipotle part was a last minute addition, and such a welcome one.

Chipotle Turkey Nachos
Tortilla chips
Shredded cheese (we used cheddar and Monterey jack)
Chipotle hot sauce
3 jalapeños
½ red onion
2 tomatoes
Sour cream

Preheat your oven to about 350.  Chop the turkey into small pieces and toss in a bowl with a generous amount of chipotle hot sauce.  On a baking sheet lined with foil, lay a thin layer of chips.  Sprinkle the chips with cheese and spread some chipotle turkey over them.  Add another layer of chips, cheese and turkey. Repeat layers until you use up all your cheese and turkey.  Put in the oven and allow to bake.  Dice up the jalapeños (removing the seeds and stems reduces the heat and the chances of heartburn), onion and tomato.  After about 5-7 minutes check on your nachos – once the cheese is melted they are done – and remove.  Slide the foil with the delicious nachos onto a serving platter.  Spread the chopped veggies on top and add a dollop of sour cream.  Voila! 
A dollop of guacamole is a delicious optional accompaniment as well.

1 ripe avocado
¼ red onion
Juice of half a lemon or a whole lime
Salt, pepper, cumin

Cut the avocado and place in a bowl.  Add the citrus juice and allow to sit for a moment.  Dice the onion as small as you can.  With a fork, mash the avocado into a mush.  Add the onion and the seasoning and mix well.

But the carcass beckoned.  Turkey soup was a must.  Indeed, it’s why I was given the carcasses. Normally I use my vegetable broth as my soup base.  It makes me feel like I’m adding an extra shot of vitamins to my soups, in addition to flavor.  But not this time.  This time it was all about the bird.  Well ok, truth be told, once I removed the bones from the broth and I saw the liquid level drop, I did add one cup of my veggie broth, but the bulk of the flavor came from the bones.

Within minutes of the water coming to a boil my home was filled with the aroma of the turkey, and the wonderful smell lingered all day.  I took my time chopping up my vegetables, almost entirely roots.  Root vegetables are in season this time of year, and are also ever so tasty in soup.  Again, its one of those things that makes you think about how and why cooking came to be and how plants and humans have evolved together.  Soup is great in cold weather and root vegetables ripen in soup season – is it coincidence or cooperation? 

I also added a few sun dried tomatoes, because… well because I had them and they are tasty and healthy, and they add a nice bit of color to the soup.  You can add whatever vegetables you have to your soup.

Turkey Soup
Turkey carcass with bits of meat still attached
1 bay leaf
3 carrots
½ onion
4 small turnips (I have tiny tiny turnips)
3 medium potatoes
½ diakon
3 sun dried tomatoes
6 cups water, approximately
1 cup vegetable broth

Put your carcass into a large pot and fill with water.  Set it on the stove and bring to a boil.  Drop in your bay leaf, reduce to a simmer, and cover.  Allow to simmer about 30 or 40 minutes.  Occasionally scrape off any scum that rises to the surface of the water with a spoon.  In the meantime chop your veggies into soup size pieces.

Remove the carcass from the water and place on a cutting board.  Remove the bay leaf and discard.  Add the vegetables to the liquid.  Add a cup or two of extra liquid such as broth (but water will do) and allow to come back up to a low boil.  Once the carcass has cooled enough to handle, get to work picking off any remaining meat, which you should add back into your soup.  Some will have already fallen off during the simmering, and what is left should come off the bones very easily.  Reduce back down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30-40 minutes until your vegetables are soft.

Allow to cool and carefully scrape of any fat that has risen to the top.  Eat now, or freeze to enjoy for weeks to come… until you get another wonderful turkey carcass.

No comments:

Post a Comment