Thanksgiving is always followed by the question of what to do with the leftover turkey. Having discovered this year that I really don't like it reheated, I thought I might put together a rather fuller dissertation on the whole theme.
I have an issue with poultry. It's a minority thing, but I'm not the only one. By having the courage to talk about it, I have learned that quite a few people share my issue. It's complicated and cannot be explained to those who don't share it, but if you are interested, it goes like this.
Farmed poultry, by which we are generally referring to chicken and turkey, have two flavours each, not one. One is released by fast cooking and one by slow cooking. This is not my imagination, it is a known culinary fact, and is used by chefs to make it the flexible meat it is.
Most people enjoy both of these flavours. In fact they've probably never really thought about it, or even been aware of it. They are just as happy with fried chicken as with chicken stew.
Some of us are sensitive to the difference. Some are so sensitive, in fact, that it tastes like two completely different foods. So sensitive that even the smell, and not just the taste, is totally different.
And of those who are aware of the difference, some of them like one more than the other. However, some actively dislike one to a much greater extent.
A final subset is those of us who find the smell and taste of slow-cooked poultry extremely unpleasant indeed. Not just "not to my tastes", but can cause nausea. Yes, really.
When you consider the widespread popularity of foods such as chicken soup and chicken stew, this always causes a surprised reaction. Which is fair enough.
But if you find a taste/smell offensive, then you do, and that's that. And, like I said, it's not just me, and we're not being difficult.
If you wish to make fun of people who find slow cooked poultry offensive, have at it, but try to remember it. Thanks awfully.
I am used to the offhand remarks. I don't expect sympathy. Just know that if you are cooking chicken stew I may have to leave the premises. OK?
Having roast a turkey for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever leads to a few weird conversations. Roast turkey (fast cooked, yes, actually) is something I enjoy, but I prefer it cold. And I have to explain that repeatedly too. But I love nothing better than a cold roast turkey sandwich. No fuss. Just bread and butter, slices of turkey, and a bit of salt. Yep. That simple. It's good. I never tire of it.
Of course you can fancy it up. You can add anything. If I seek variety my usual additions are Branston Pickle (British food, Google it if not familiar, it's widely available in Canada), Heinz Salad Cream (ditto), or some nice crisp lettuce. Or both of the last two.
And I'm sure you can think of many other things you can put in a turkey sandwich.
So. After the roast has cooled we separate the meat, fat, and bones, etc. The meat is divided between light and dark. The fat goes to the dogs. The bones go to make stock. The breast meat is my prize. My sandwiches. You may prefer dark meat for yours, and you are welcome to it.
So, we can cut up the meat and freeze it for later use. This does away with the issue of "Bored with turkey". Of course not everyone has a freezer, so they have to use it right away. So how many things can you make from leftover turkey?
It cannot be counted. The only limit is your imagination.
The obvious one is our first go-to meal, "Day After Soup".
This is where you use up not only meat, but the vegetables, the gravy, the stuffing, and even the cranberry sauce if you like.
Day After Thanksgiving/Christmas Soup
Sauté some onions, carrots, and celery, very finely diced. Cut up and add meat, potatoes, and any vegetables, then add stock. You can throw in the strangest things to this. I've tossed in sausage rolls before now. It all cooks down and nobody notices. You probably won't need any herbs or seasoning if you include the stuffing and gravy, but otherwise the usual: salt, pepper, and some herbs to taste.
Bring it all to the boil then simmer until it looks like soup (at least an hour). Serve with bread and butter.
This can be done two ways.
1. Follow the soup instructions, but make it much thicker. Add less liquid and/or include a thickener. If there is enough potato included that may be sufficient, otherwise thicken with flour or whatever you normally use.
2. Cut up your turkey meat, and dice up a couple of onions. Sauté this until the onion is soft (or the meat is slightly browned if you like). You can add other vegetables (leftover or new), and mushrooms are good. You can put all of this into the pie as is, or you can add a sauce. I usually make a béchamel but with half milk and half stock.
Thicker version of soup, using leftover and/or new vegetables.
Start with stew, add curry spices.
If you were expecting recipes for the last two you are missing the point. This is food from LEFTOVERS. I have explained soup/stew/curry in other blogs, so you can refer to those, but the idea is to make it up as you go along.
Again, refer to how my quesadillas are not really quesadillas, but if you:
Take two large flour tortillas.
Cover one with chopped up turkey, grated cheese, maybe some sautéed veggies, and some Tex-Mex spices (see my Taco blend blog),
Top with the other tortilla.
Bake it until cheese is melted, everything else is hot through, and the tortilla has slightly changed colour.
Then serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole and whatever else you want.
It will be a very good quesadilla even if it's not authentic.
Likewise Turkey Tacos
Just throw the chopped up turkey meat and spices in with grated cheese, chopped lettuce, tomato, and green onions, and add salsa.
Turkey Generic Italian
Make a meaty tomato sauce by adding chopped up turkey to sautéed onion, peppers, and garlic, add tomato sauce, and then herbs and spices as required. Other vegetables can be added such as mushroom, zucchini, and so on. Use this over pasta, in lasagne, with orzo, etc etc.
Instead of tomato sauce add béchamel sauce, with plenty of black pepper and use fast cook veggies. Peas and corn are good.
As above. Add bacon. Don't shush me.
Bit more complicated, so take any risotto recipe, as you'll need it for the rice/liquid proportions, follow that and invent the rest with turkey and whatever vegetables you feel like.
Turkey Stir Fry
Speaks for itself. Serve with rice or ramen noodles.
Turkey Generic Middle Eastern.
Same as stir fry but add chick peas and harissa. Serve with rice. Oh yes it is. REMEMBER: THIS IS LEFTOVERS, not haute cusine.
Like curry but with different spices. Serve with sour cream.
Don't tell me I'm wrong: Goulasch just means "stew".
Chunk of cold turkey. Add lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, and green onions. Choose your dressing. I never said it was an imaginative salad, but it's a salad.
This should keep you going until you run out. You can also make meatballs, and a ton of other things, but I never want to hear you say you're bored with it. Thank you.