A big part of Thanksgiving is enjoying – and enjoying and enjoying – turkey-centric meals after the holiday. But what if – horror of horrors – all the turkey has been eaten, leaving nothing but skin and bones?
Forget about hot turkey and gravy sandwiches, turkey and wild rice soup and curried turkey salad. But you can still enjoy that turkey flavor in memorable dishes and bask in the Thanksgiving afterglow.
I’ve taken the turkey carcass and roasted it to coax out more flavor and depth (any remaining meat on the carcass, the thigh bones and wings is a bonus). Roasting the bones before making stock is a technique used to create veal demi-glace, the foundation of many sauces. Adding vegetable aromatics – onion, carrot and celery – while you roast the bones provides even more flavor.
Once the stock is made, continue simmering to reduce the volume and intensify the taste. You can use this intense stock to create several meatless dishes with a turkey nuance, while incorporating other Thanksgiving leftovers.
Chunks of sweet potato combined with mushrooms and toasted bread soaked in the roasted turkey stock become a savory bread pudding punctuated with bits of toasted pecan. You can cook grains like farro in turkey broth, then toss the grain with cooked green beans, shredded raw Brussels sprouts and a roasted turkey vinaigrette.
Pasta is also a good foil to soak up some turkey flavor. My recipe features an efficient, low-water pasta-cooking technique used by Mario Batalli and espoused by food scientist Harold McGee. It is also a terrific way to begin creating a pan sauce as you’re cooking the pasta.
Starting pasta in cold water and then bringing it all to a boil keeps the pasta from sticking. About halfway through cooking, I replaced some of the starchy water with some of the concentrated stock so the pasta took on more flavor and color. A few roasted vegetables, good Parmesan cheese, and a few additions to the sauce make this nearly a one-skillet dish.
If you have turkey-meat odds and ends, add them to the farro salad or pasta. Or use them to create a gumbo that includes a little andouille sausage and lots of vegetables. The gumbo has a deep, nutty flavor from an oven-made dark roux. It’s a technique borrowed from Bay Area chef Joey Altman, who developed his gumbo prowess in the 1980s when he cooked at New Orleans’ Commander’s Palace.
If you like thick, comforting, porridge-like dishes, you can’t go wrong with turkey jook or rice congee. Jook is one way to use a carcass without roasting it first. You can even start simmering the rice and carcass as soon as you’ve removed the meat, so you can have jook for breakfast.
Hopefully, you will have plenty of leftovers – including turkey – to make your favorite post-holiday meals, as well as some time to try roasting your turkey carcass while you ponder what to create for your next dish.
Roasted Turkey Stock
Makes about 1 quart
Making a good stock just takes time, especially if you continue simmering to reduce it. You can cut some of the cooling time b y pouring it into a large shallow pan such as a 9- by 13-inch glass or metal baking pan set atop a rack. Direct a fan to blow across the counter and top of the pan. It won’t be long before the stock is cool enough to refrigerate (a skin will start to form and any fat present will begin solidifying).
- — Turkey carcass, about 2 pounds
- — Oil, if needed
- 1 small carrot
- 1/2 small onion
- 1 celery rib
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 thyme sprig
- — Few parsley stems
Instructions: Break the carcass up into smaller pieces, using a cleaver if you have one. Try to cut the pieces as flat as possible. Scrape out and discard the kidneys (located inside the carcass along the backbone near the hip area) and any other loose stuff.
Pull off the skin from the carcass, then arrange the skin, fat side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Otherwise, coat the baking sheet with oil.
Place the carcass pieces in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, arranging for maximum contact with the baking sheet. Chop the vegetables into medium-size pieces, and place at one end of the baking sheet.
Arrange the oven racks on the bottom third or near the bottom of the oven; preheat the oven to 450-500°. Roast until the bottom of the bones and the vegetables become dark brown (check at about 25 minutes).
Turn the bones and vegetables over, and roast on the other side. Remove the skin after it renders and becomes crisp; reserve these skin cracklings for recipes as needed. Sections of skin with less fat will need to be removed earlier so they don’t burn.
Place the roasted carcass and vegetables into a stock pot or Dutch oven. Cover with cold water by at least 2 inches, bring to a simmer and skim at least once before adding the bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and parsley stems, if using.
Meanwhile, add enough hot water to the rimmed baking sheet to loosen the browned bits, scraping with a flat wooden spoon or spatula. Add the liquid to the pot.
Continue simmering, turning carcass over occasionally, until bones separate easily when lifted from the pot, about 2-3 hours. Continue cooking until stock has really reduced and bones are above level of the stock. Drain through a colander, then pour a little fresh water over the bones to lightly rinse off any more stock before discarding the solids; pass stock through a fine mesh strainer if needed.
Rinse out stock pot and reduce further if desired.
Cool to near room temperature before refrigerating. Refrigerate for several days, or freeze for later use.
Due to the general nature of the recipe, there is no analysis.
Sweet Potato & Mushroom Bread Pudding
Serve this savory, meatless bread pudding with a salad for a satisfying supper or brunch dish. You can also make this the night before, refrigerate, and bake before serving.
- — Unsalted butter as needed
- — About 12 ounces pain de levain or artisan country-style bread
- 1 to 1 1/4 cup Roasted Turkey Stock (see recipe)
- — Kosher salt, to taste
- — Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 large dried whole shiitakes, or equivalent amount of dried slices, rehydrated
- 10 ounces cooked, whole sweet potato
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups half-and-half or 1 cup milk + 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 to 1/2 cups toasted pecan halves broken into large pieces
Instructions: Butter an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°. Trim crust from levain and cut into 1-inch cubes; you should have about 7-8 cups. Toast on a rimmed baking sheet until fairly crisp, firm and lightly browned. You can toast the bread ahead of time.
Season the stock with salt and pepper to taste, then toss with the bread cubes. The bread should soak up all the stock but not become too wet – the bread will also need to soak up some of the custard. The amount of stock needed will depend on how dry the bread cubes are.
Trim off and discard shiitake stems; chop the caps into bite-size pieces; you should have 3/4-1 cup. Cut sweet potato into large bite-size chunks; you should have about 1 1/2 cups. Fold the mushrooms, sweet potato and pecans into the bread cubes then turn into the prepared baking dish.
Whisk the eggs and half-and-half together and pour over the bread, pressing top pieces down into the custard. Let sit until the bread has absorbed some of the custard, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°.
Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake 30 minutes; remove foil and continue baking until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60-75 minutes (recover with foil if the top starts overbrowning).
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serving: 301 calories, 10 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat (5 g saturated), 136 mg cholesterol, 324 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.
Yields about 3 quarts
Jook, a traditional Chinese comfort food, is a great way to soothe stomachs stuffed the previous day with turkey, trimmings and rich desserts. The ideal consistency for this porridge resembles light- to medium-bodied Cream of Wheat that falls easily from the spoon. It’s easy to reheat jook in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat, then garnish if desired.
- 1 turkey carcass
- 4 quarts cold water
- 1 cup long-grain rice (jasmine rice recommended)
- 1/2 cup glutinous rice (if unavailable, substitute long-grain rice)
- 4 slices of peeled fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter, smashed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- Garnishes and condiments (optional)
- — Cilantro sprigs
- — Thinly sliced green onion
- — Fresh water chestnuts, peeled and minced, or substitute jicama
- — Black fungus, rehydrated and julienned (see Note)
- — Dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and thinly sliced
- — Asian sesame oil
- — Soy sauce
- — Pickled turnip or bamboo shoots
Instructions: Remove excess skin from the carcass but leave any browned, crisp pieces for additional flavor. To help fit the carcass into a pot, cut it in half, breaking it across the backbone along the ribs. Place the halves in a large stockpot and add the cold water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, skimming the scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Rinse the rice well in several changes of water until water runs clear. Add the rice to the pot. Bring back to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. (Low heat and stirring are important to avoid scorching as the jook thickens.)
Remove the carcass and skin from the jook. Discard bones and skin. Shred any large pieces of meat or cut into bite-size pieces and return to the soup. Add the salt and simmer for about 30 minutes, until a good consistency is reached.
Finish with the sesame oil and serve with small dishes of the garnishes and the condiments.
Note: Black fungus is a dried mushroom available in Asian markets.
Per cup: 100 calories, 3 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 268 mg sodium, 0 fiber.
Wine pairing: Champagne or Beaujolais Nouveau has the freshness to complement the porridge and makes for an interesting addition.
Pasta With Parsnips, Broccoli Rabe & Roasted Turkey Sauce
Roast the carrots and parsnips in the oven as you roast the turkey carcass, or saute them with a little oil. You can also substitute other vegetables you might have on hand. The cold-start pasta-cooking method borrowed from Mario Batalli and food scientist Harold McGee uses less water. Concentrated roasted turkey stock, added to the pasta while it cooks, becomes the base of the pasta sauce.
- 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 parsnip, cut into matchsticks
- — Olive oil
- — Kosher salt, to taste
- — Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe
- 8 ounces fettuccine
- 2 cups hot Roasted Turkey Stock (see recipe) + additional as needed
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 large clove
- 1 teaspoon thinly sliced roasted garlic (optional, see Note)
- 3 to 4 small sage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
- — Pinch cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream, creme fraiche or sour cream
- — Lemon zest and juice, to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste + more for the table
- — Chopped turkey cracklings or parsley (optional garnish)
Instructions: Place the rack near the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°. Peel and cut carrot and parsnip into matchsticks (if the parsnip has a hard core, cut around it, then discard. Toss with just enough oil to coat; season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast until browned and cooked through, stirring once as needed, about 10-11 minutes; set aside. Meanwhile, start the pasta.
Thinly cut broccoli rabe leaves and florets crosswise until you get about 3 packed cups. Rinse and set aside; save stems for another use.
Lay pasta flat in a 12-inch skillet, or break in half for smaller skillet. Add cold water just to cover the pasta and salt generously. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then cook about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour off about half the water and set it aside. Add the 2 cups concentrated roasted turkey stock to the pasta, with more stock if needed to cover, and return to a boil; stir.
Cook pasta to al dente stage – about 4-5 minutes more; drain pasta, reserving the liquid, then transfer pasta to a bowl and return the liquid to the pan. Add the onions, the raw and the roasted garlic, sage, fish sauce and cayenne pepper. Lower heat and simmer until sauce is reduced to a generous cup.
Whisk in the cream. Stir in the broccoli rabe and season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Return pasta to the pan, toss to coat thoroughly with sauce, and warm through. Add more stock or reserved cooking water if the sauce is too thick.
Just before serving, toss in the roasted carrots and parsnips, and the grated Parmesan. Garnish with turkey cracklings or parsley, if using, and serve immediately.
Note: Christopher Ranch makes roasted garlic cloves, which are available in many supermarkets. Or, you can roast your own.
Per serving: 265 calories, 12 g protein, 47 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 9 mg cholesterol, 344 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.
Makes about 7-8 cups
Make the dark roux in the oven while you roast the turkey carcass for stock. Serve this with rice, if desired.
- Dark roux
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 ounces (1 scant cup) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 medium yellow onion
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 3 ribs celery
- 1 to 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 5 to 6 cups roasted or plain turkey stock or a combination
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons minced thyme
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons minced oregano
- 8 ounces sliced okra, fresh or frozen
- 7 to 8 tablespoons dark roux or as desired
- 3 to 4 ounces Cajun-style andouille sausage, cut into small bite-size pieces
- 3 cups bite-size pieces of turkey
- — Hot sauce
- — Chipotles in adobo, to taste (optional)
- — Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- — File gumbo (optional)
For the dark roux: Melt the butter in a small, heavy oven-proof pot or skillet; whisk in the flour. Place in a 450°-500° oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until roux darkens to a deep, mahogany brown color, about 45-60 minutes. Alternatively, cook on the stovetop over low to medium-low heat, stirring nearly constantly until color is reached. Set aside to cool.
The roux will keep several weeks if refrigerated; bring to room temperature before using. Compared to a blond roux, dark roux has much less thickening power and is used for flavor as well as a little thickening.
For the gumbo: Finely chop the onion, bell peppers and celery. Add oil and vegetables to a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Cook vegetables until soft and translucent; add garlic, cooking until aromatic. Add tomatoes, 4 cups of the stock, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and okra. Bring to a simmer, then whisk in about 6 tablespoons of the dark room-temperature roux. Simmer until okra is tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add sausage and continue to simmer, adding more roux and stock until you get the desired flavor and consistency.
Stir in the turkey and warm through. Season to taste with hot sauce, chipotles in adobo (if using) and salt and pepper. If desired, garnish with optional file gumbo.
Per cup: 294 calories, 20 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 16 g fat (8 g saturated), 72 mg cholesterol, 66 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
Farro With Brussels Sprouts, Green Bean & Bacon
Toasting the farro, then cooking it in stock, adds a ton of flavor to this satisfying whole-grain salad, which can be served warm or at room temperature. The vinaigrette is stock-based, so serve it soon after dressing the salad and refrigerate any leftovers without too much delay.
- 3/4 cup semipearled farro
- — Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 to 6 ounces bacon
- 6 ounces Brussels sprouts
- 1/4 cup finely diced sweet red onion, or to taste
- 1 generous cup green bean pieces (about 3/8 -inch), cooked
- 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/4 cup Roasted Turkey Stock (see recipe), to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
- — Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions: Toast farro in a small skillet or in a 350°-375° oven (it toasts quickly, so watch closely). Cook “pasta-style” in just enough well-seasoned turkey stock to cover – stirring occasionally and adding more stock as needed – until slightly al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain, place in a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, thinly cut bacon crosswise and cook until crisp. Drain on paper towels; if desired reserve bacon fat for another use.
Rinse Brussels sprouts and shred as finely as possible using a mandoline, if available (don’t trim the stems, which makes them easier to hold); you should have about 2 cups. Add to the farro along with the red onion, green beans and lemon zest to taste.
Whisk together, the stock, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the farro and vegetables and toss together. Just before serving, toss in most of the bacon and sprinkle the rest on top.
Per serving: 364 calories, 18 g protein, 34 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat (6 g saturated), 30 mg cholesterol, 672 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.
E-mail Lynne Char Bennett at [email protected] .
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