Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Rubbermaid Brigade - Tackling Leftovers 101

This morning, I sat down to a breakfast of fried mashed potato cake topped with a cheddar omelet. Ah, Thanksgiving, how I love thy bountiful refrigerator harvest.
     I know what you're thinking...
Christine is up at 7 am??
     Very funny.
Yes, foodists, due to a toddler with an accident in bed at 5 this morning, I was up to make coffee and eggs early. Lucky me. Fine, need to get used to rising at a decent hour. But what made me smile was the notion that it's OK to eat fried mashed potatoes for breakfast. Why? Well, it's the Holiday Season! Eat, drink, and eat some more! Hooray, Hassah!
  It made me ponder the remaining leftovers that are lurking in Rubbermaid cloaks from Thanksgiving. Yes, there is the primordially delectable turkey/stuffing/mayo sandwich, of course, and mashed potatoes are good any time of day or night, but what to do with, say, that pound of cranberry sauce, or the gravy? Or the dark meat portion of the bird that NOBODY seems to eat anymore?
     And, did YOU use the giblets and neck?? Of COURSE you did!
See the steam? Our bird, hot from the oven!
It's been 6 days, folks, hard to believe December and Christmas (and Hanukkah) are upon us...time to get rid of that carcass taking up half the refrigerator, and make something useful! To start, I give you two simple recipes - first, a solution for leftover bits and pieces of dark and white meat (if you have any left) plus gravy and cranberry sauce, and then simple stock to make good use of the carcass. Because, as any good foodie knows, you simply do NOT discard a perfectly good animal carcass without culinarily sucking the life out of it!

Turkey Croquettes, with choice of sauce
1 c. milk
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
¼ c. unsalted butter
¼ c. flour
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
4 c. shredded or finely chopped dark and white meat from a roasted bird (use your fingers and pick!)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
For coating:
½ c. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. paprika
2 large eggs
1 ½ c. finely chopped fresh breadcrumbs, or panko (if you have leftover rolls or bread from T-Day, pulse in the food processor to make fine fresh crumbs)
Oil, for frying
Attach 1 bay leaf to each onion half using 2 cloves. In a small saucepan, heat milk and onions, bay leaf side down, until just steaming. Turn off and let steep 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, dry mustard, salt, and ½ tsp. white pepper, cooking 1 minute and stirring to smooth out. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly, to make a smooth sauce. Cook on medium heat, stirring, until sauce is bubbling and very thick. Add nutmeg, and taste to adjust seasonings. Pour into a shallow bowl and press plastic directly on surface.  Let cool 10 minutes.
In a bowl, combine shredded meat, parsley, tarragon, and red pepper flakes with the cooled sauce, mixing thoroughly. Taste and check seasonings, using additional salt and white pepper as needed. Press plastic onto surface of mixture, and chill for at least 2 hours.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or deep fryer to 350 degrees F. In three shallow bowls, arrange first the flour, salt, white pepper, and paprika; then the eggs, beaten in the second bowl; the breadcrumbs should go in the third bowl.  Form the chilled mixture into little football shapes about the size of your palm, packing mix together tightly in hand. Roll first in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs, pressing tightly to adhere. Place on a plate, and complete with the remaining mix. Fry the croquettes in batches of three for about 5-7 minutes, until the coating is a rich golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain. Serve hot with one of the sauces.
Sauce options:
1) In a small saucepan, heat 1 c. leftover gravy with 2 tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp. heavy cream or sour cream; stir in 1 tbsp. chopped tarragon and season to taste.
2) Mix 1/2 c. leftover cranberry sauce with 1 tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard, 1/2 c. mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. minced shallot and 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley.
3) Mix 1/2 c. mustard, 1/2 c. honey and 1/2 c. mayonnaise
**The last two options are also great sandwich spreads for turkey or chicken!

Turkey stock

1 turkey carcass, legs and wings removed from body, breastbone broken away from spine, all useful meat removed, plus any accumulated aromatics/jellied juices/roasted skin left on the platter (everything in the pot!)
2 stalks celery with leaves, broken in large chunks
2 large carrots, unpeeled, in large chunks
1 large onion, unpeeled, quartered
1 large bunch herbs - thyme, parsley, sage combo
2 bay leaves
20 peppercorns
5 cloves

Add all ingredients to a large stockpot; cover with water just over the carcass. Cover pot and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Skin off any fat and scum, and continue to simmer on low heat for 3 hours, skimming scum as needed. Have a small bag ready (for garbage) and another large pot at hand. Rest a fine colander on the empty pot. Using a ladle, carefully scoop stock through the colander into the clean pot; continue until you can't get the ladle past the carcass. Lift bones, veggies, etc. out of the stockpot into the garbage bag, and continue to ladle stock. When you get to the bottom, GENTLY pour the remainder through the colander - the goal here is a clear stock, so do NOT press on the solids. Discard any remaining ingredients. Cover the pot with stock and place in the refrigerator overnight.
   The next day, remove the stock from the fridge. The fat will have accumulated and solidified on top - discard this. Bring stock up to a boil, then reduce and simmer uncovered until reduced by 1/3. Voila! You made turkey stock!
At this point, there are several directions to go - here are your options:
1) make turkey soup - add leftover meat, fresh chopped vegetables, and herbs to stock; simmer until veggies are cooked through. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Keep in mind that stock is much lighter in flavor and body than traditional soup bases, so it is recommended to reduce the stock further to intensify the flavor - or you can cheat and add some chicken base or bouillon.
2) you can spoon the stock into 1 or 2 cup portions and freeze in zip top bags for convenient future uses in cooking.
3) you can make tiny, intense cubes of turkey goodness by continuing to reduce the stock until it's a mere 1/4 of it's original volume; pour into ice cube trays and freeze, then store in zip top bags. The cubes will not be able to be diluted to make regular stock, like a base would, but they are very valuable in intensifying and fortifying sauces, gravy, and regular soup. The flavor they infuse is incredible, plus they're easy to store.

Gobble, gobble, the turkey is kaput!

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