Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leftover Turkey

Well, Thanksgiving turned out to be a success.  Friends were gathered, glasses were raised, bellies were full, and good times were had.

We have so much left over pie.  Good thing I'm a serious pie lover.

As with all of the dinner events between my friends and I, everyone brought a little something to contribute to the meal.  In the end, the menu was brimming with tradition and rounded out with a twist.  Here's a rundown:
  • Turkey (wasn't she a beaut?)
  • Gluten-free stuffing (adapted from this recipe on Gluten-Free Girl)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potato casserole with a pecan topping
  • Herbed gravy
  • Raw kale salad
  • Wontons with cranberries, cream cheese, figs and other goodies. And they looked like turkeys, according to Britni, their creator (maybe if you squinted? in a dark room? Love you Brit!) 

And then there was dessert.  I personally made a pumpkin pie with a gingersnap crust, my ginger pear upside down cake, and pumpkin cookies with a lemon glaze.  All were gluten-free.  I spent all of Wednesday night in my kitchen "office" as I whipped and baked my way towards party time.

My friend Beth brought what is now one of my favorite desserts, a zucchini pie.  It was light and creamy with just the right amount of sweet nestled into a gluten-free crust.  The zucchini flavor worked perfectly with the spices, and we were all in love.  Beth was nice enough to "forget" the leftovers at my place...  I love friends who leave pie.  I will definitely be asking for the recipe.

Another hit of the afternoon, much to my glowing satisfaction, was the turkey.  Golden, crackly skin... moist, tender meat...Whatever doubt I had had about the intense love we showed that bird for 2 days before the show was swept away once I tasted the results.  My advice to you? Brine It, People.

Brining does take a bit more effort and planning, but it is well worth the added work.  I've already written about our brining recipe and how we roasted our bird.  Now is the time to explore the aftermath.

One thing I didn't give a lot of thought to when I began this process, was what would be done with the turkey after the fact?  You might be thinking, "throw it away", is the obvious solution to this poultry riddle, but I can't help but think of that as a horrible waste.  If you answered, "make some stock", then you and I are hangin' out on the same page.

I've never actually made my own stock before, animal or vegetable.  It's one of those things that's been on my imaginary "to do" list for quite a while but has never come to fruition. 

It turns out that making stock is no more complicated than boiling up a bird carcass with some celery and herbs.  (Does that sound morbid?)  I realize that most of you will have already disposed of the remains of your turkey, but keep this recipe in mind the next time you roast a bird.

Leftover Turkey Stock

1 turkey carcass, meat removed
2 or 3 celery stalks, cut into thirds

  • Brake the turkey carcass into 3 pieces so they fit into your largest stock pot. To that, add the two celery stalks, then add enough water to cover everything. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and then reduce to low and allow it to simmer for 2 hours. 
Since my bird had soaked in a salt water bath and been stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon wedges before baking, I just included those things in the stock preparation and did not add anymore herbs or salt.  You definitely could, though.  You should, in fact, if your turkey was not brined or stuffed with herbage. A sprig or two of fresh rosemary, thyme or sage would work nicely.
  • After a couple of hours of simmering, turn the heat off and allow the stock to cool some.  At this point, strain it through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the solids, put the liquid back in the pot, and cover and refrigerate it overnight.
At this point, the carcass does need to be discarded.  In Seattle we're lucky enough to have a curbside composting service, so my turkey went into the food waste bin.
    • The following day, uncover your stock and use a large spoon to skim off the layer of fat that will have collected on the surface of the stock.  Discard the fat.
    • Refrigerate your stock for immediate use, or portion into freezer containers for future recipes. That's all folks!
    I hope you had a wonderful holiday.  Stay tuned for more wintry recipes and delicious ramblings.  Cheers!

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