Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Turkey?!

Thanksgiving day is just behind us now and some of you have undoubtedly begun to participate in the annual marathon-shopping games of Black Friday.  I do recall how Brian and I spent Black Friday a couple of years ago: while others scrambled and trampled and frantically fought like juvenile sibling rivals over toys in the stores, we basked in the quiet solitude of a hike through one of the nature preserves out east; it was blissfully peaceful.  I digress, however, this blog is about food.  Most of us, however we chose to spend Black Friday, opened our refrigerators at the stroke of midnight for that annual post-Thanksgiving dinner craving: the turkey sandwich, followed by a revisit with the pumpkin pie.  As you disengaged the gravy boat from beneath the precariously balancing bowl of leftover cranberry sauce, your excitement mounted for that annual treat.  Now it is Friday night, or perhaps even Saturday afternoon as you read this.  You just opened the refrigerator once again and what to your not-so-wondering eyes appears?  More turkey!  Is it ever going to leave?!  You have just about reached the point when you wish this bird would just reanimate itself and fly away.  Don't despair, tonight's dinner does not have to be yet another rerun of the turkey sandwich, or the hot turkey on a plate.  Sit down, take a few deep breaths, and start browsing recipes online.  While I am not a fan of cooking with turkey, there are some perfectly welcomed culinary reincarnations for using up the rest of the bird, and I do embrace the opportunity to cook with it just once a year.  Besides, even your cat or dog will get wise to the fact if you keep trying to sneak days-old turkey into his or her dish.

To keep this post brief, as many of you, Black Friday shoppers or not, are busily starting preparations for a fun season of gift-gathering, clandestine gift-wrapping, card-addressing, creative cookie-baking, tree-trimming and home decorating for the next round of holidays, I'll just mention a few possibilities and include my favorite way to finish out the turkey once and for all.  Cooked turkey can be utilized in a number of dishes.  It can be added to a pot of soup with wild rice and vegetables.  For this I would suggest making the stock yourself, using the turkey carcass after removing all of the meat.  Be sure to strain the finished stock well before adding the rest of your soup ingredients; otherwise your stock will resemble that sink full of dirty dishwater that you forgot to drain.  Another helpful hint, if you have leftover vegetables from the big day, go ahead and add those as well when you add the turkey.  Remember, all of these things are already cooked, so once you have made the stock and added a couple of other ingredients to cook such as rice or pasta, the rest is easy as the turkey and vegetables only need to be stirred in at the end and heated through.  A white chili with white beans would also be a welcoming pot for the turkey.  On the note of Mexican dining, with the help of some southwestern spices and chili peppers, turkey can also be enjoyed in fajitas or tacos.  If you are craving Asian flavor, use the turkey in a stir fry with some peppers, broccoli and straw mushrooms.  A great idea for lunch is to arrange the turkey meat atop salad greens, add some sliced mushrooms, dried cranberries, nuts, sliced apple, crumbled blue cheese and drizzle the salad with a homemade apple cider vinaigrette.

My favorite way to use up the leftover turkey is to make a pot pie.  The pie can either be very traditional, with peas, carrots and potatoes; or it can be as creative as you want it to be, with the addition of fall root vegetables and hazelnuts for just one example.

Turkey Pot Pie

2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large potato (or 2 medium), peeled and diced
1 cup frozen green peas
2 cups frozen pearl onions
2 cups cooked turkey, coarsely chopped

12 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into dice and chilled again
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chilled vegetable shortening
1/2 cup ice water

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup flour
4 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream

1 egg white, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
sea salt crystals

In a saucepan with a steamer insert, bring water to a boil.  Add the cubed potatoes and carrots into the pot.  Place the peas and pearl onions into the steam insert and place on the pot.  Cover.  Allow the peas and onions to steam for about three minutes.  Remove steamer insert and drain the peas and onions.  Allow the potatoes and carrots to continue boiling in the pot until they are tender.  Drain thoroughly.

In the bowl of a food processor with the steel blade, mix the flour and salt.  Remove the butter and shortening from the refrigerator from place into the food processor bowl.  Pulse ingredients until the mixture resembles small pea-sized pebbles.  Remove the water from the refrigerator and, with the processor on, pour it through the feed tube into the bowl.  Pulse the processor until the entire mixture begins to form one ball.  Turn out onto a floured surface.  Quickly form into a neat ball, pat down into the shape of a thick disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for about a half hour.

Return the ball of dough to a very well-floured surface and divide in half.  Begin rolling one of the balls with a floured pin into a ten-inch circle, turning the circle one quarter turn every few rolls to prevent it from sticking to the surface.  Butter the inside of a pie dish.  Place the dough into the dish, allowing the excess to rest over the edges for the time being.  Place pie dish into the refrigerator.  Roll out the second ball into a ten-inch circle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Stir and cook for about a minute.  Gradually add the stock in several additions, stirring constantly, until all broth has been added, the flour-butter mixture has incorporated the stock and the sauce is thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream, sage, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Stir in the carrots, potato, peas, onions and turkey.  Turn mixture out into prepared pie dish, filling the crust.  Top with the second crust, sealing the edges of both crusts and fluting the edges.  Make four to five slits into the top crust with a sharp knife.  Brush the entire top crust with the egg white mixture.  Sprinkle liberally with the sea salt crystals.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

There now, you don't even recognize that foul guest who has overstayed its welcome, do you?  Hopefully this will help you finish off the bird as well as clear out that shelf in your refrigerator, making way for some of the holiday season's other delectables that you prepare in the coming weeks.

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