I bought a 20 pound turkey, and cooked it recently just to explore ways to utilize holiday leftovers without getting bored. I remember as a kid getting so burnt out on the microwave heated plates of Thanksgiving spread we would eat for the week after. The stuffing was half cold and mushy, the gravy congealed, the green bean casserole a hot mess, the clumpy taters had seen better days and all of it topped off with a helping of chalky leftover turkey meat. My mother never let us waste an ounce of the meal she would prepare, and I love her for it, but I do recall wishing for another way to eat the turkey…of course there is Turkey soup which I discuss at the bottom of that post about the turkey my mother always made, which is the recipe I used, but I wanted to explore other ways.
I decided to start by serving the turkey with mashed potatoes, gravy, and veg, the first dinner after it was done roasting. I proceeded to remove the rest of the meat off the bones. Now don’t throw those bones away….no really, the basis to most of these ideas is the gold that is rendered from those bones that would normally be thrown away. This homemade stock is stupid easy, like not even for dummies, a monkey could make this stock and as long as said monkey has reasonable hygiene it will be just as delicious. All you do you cut the bones up to fit in a crock pot (bigger the better) but just put in as many as can fit, then fill the crock pot to the top with water, set on low and leave overnight. when you wake up you will get this:
Skim off some of the scum and fat at the top with a large spoon, then strain though a fine mesh strainer, discard solids, place the liquid in glass container and refrigerate. Viola! You have homemade stock, now at this point you can freeze part of it for later use or keep it in the fridge for a week worth of dinners. I have assembled these as ideas only, you can pick and choose how to use your turkey according to availability of ingredients, as well as what you prefer. Keep in mind it doesn’t always have to be extravagant it mostly just needs to taste good. Many of these ideas are appropriate for company and no one would assume they are eating leftovers.
My first recipe is Laksa utilizing some of the stock made earlier and the dark meat, this soup packs a serious punch. It’s a coconut curry based version and probably the best way to liven up your turkey. I made my own laksa paste but you can buy it jarred. If you do decide to make your own, I would suggest sourcing your ingredients at the Asian market or you can of course have it delivered to your door via Amazon. Either way, once you have your ingredients in hand it comes together in 20 minutes.
I used for two servings:
1 cup dark meat roasted turkey
2 cups turkey stock
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup laksa paste
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. fish sauce
6 tofu puffs, they are easily found at Asian markets, basically they are fried tofu and they suck up the broth like an amazingly tasty sponge
a handful of bean sprouts
a few springs of cilantro
chilies if you like it hot
half a lime cut into wedges
1/2 of a 14 oz package of rice stick noodles, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
In a medium sauce pan heat a few tsp. of oil, add laksa paste and cook until fragrant. Add stock, turkey, and coconut milk, bring to a simmer. Add tofu, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Portion the noodles equally into two bowls, pour over broth, turkey, and tofu. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, limes, and chilies! Serve hot and enjoy!
Second idea, is the Turkey dip, a play on the French dip, this sandwich is delicious and you can have four ready in 10 minutes. Is it over the top exciting….well no…but it is damn tasty and that is what home cooking is about.
First thing, source tasty bread! If you have a Vietnamese bakery or Asian market, by all means get Bahn mi bread, or Vienna bread as some are called. If that isn’t available to you, get locally baked crusty “hogie” or “sub” rolls. Crispy on the outside soft in the middle, this roll will make your sandwich go from good to great! After procuring your rolls, heat 1.5-2 cups of the homemade stock up, make sure to remove any fat from the top, it will harden in the fridge and remove easily with a spoon or your hand…your kitchen, your rules, when it is warm check salt and pepper levels and season to your taste. While heating stock, slice turkey up, about a handful for each sandwich, and place in warming stock, once simmering, distribute meat onto split rolls and serve the hot jus on the side. Marvel at how quiet the picky nine year old (or picky eater in your house) is as she munches.
Easy for lunch and dinner! Now if you are looking for something a bit more “foodie” appropriate but just as easy as the turkey dip, you may want to try Turkey tikka masala.
Now this is really easy, as I received Sharwood’s Tikka sauce in November’s Degustabox. I simply caramelized half an onion in a bit of butter (low and slow, at least twenty minutes) poured the jar of sauce over and added 1/4 homemade stock, and 2 cups cubed up cooked turkey I thought the sauce was good, but maybe a bit mild compared to some of the tikka’s I have eaten, although it is great for feeding the family as no one will get “spiced out” as we call it at my house, I spice them out a lot…LOL! I served ours on some basmati rice and topped with cilantro. It was a great way to have the turkey and it is a nice change of pace from the traditional Thanksgiving foul, feel free to use your own homemade tikka sauce or your favorite jarred variety.
Well there you have it! Turkey can replace chicken in most any recipe, so buy that big one….and experiment with your favorite ways to serve it! Happy Thanksgiving!