Friday, November 19, 2010

Turkey--More than the main event!

The Main Ingredient that Keeps on Giving!

With the Thanksgiving Feast fast approaching, I cook with left-overs in mind, especially when there's lots of company and many more meals to come. Extra turkey for later is almost more important to me than the warm slices that will nestle against the dressing and cranberry sauce.

I cook an extra turkey breast to assure that everyone gets a turkey sandwich or two. That's one time I highly recommend white bread (specifically Pepperidge Farm House White): turkey, mayo (Dukes of course), lettuce and plenty of salt and pepper on really fresh white bread. I'm already there!

I'm a big turkey fan. I learned to do the carving long before I was actually doing the cooking. I can admit now that it was a selfish gesture. No one seemed very interested. We didn't do the dramatic carving at the table, so while Mama whipped the potatoes and kept the rolls from getting too brown on top, I sliced my way through the bird, which meant that I could also steal the very best bites of crispy skin that dislodged from the meat and would never make it to the table anyway! My very favorite part of the turkey!

I learned a lesson from those carving days. Now I want everyone to enjoy their favorite bite, so while the turkey rests, waiting to make its way to the table via carving board, I encourage those who are so inclined to snitch a little bite. It's our Thanksgiving 'amuse-bouche'!

I also take care of the entire bird while carving, right down to cleaning the bones. The tiny little pieces that fall apart or cling to a bone get stored in a ziplock bag and refrigerated. When the feast is over, I store the sandwich pieces in a separate ziplock, and all the extra little pieces left on the platter join their friends in the scrap bag. These little scraps are going to turn into two of my favorite post-feast turkey meals: Curried Holiday Turkey Salad and Turkey and Corn Chowder. Both of these recipes have such nice flavors, and are distinctly different from their origin. You don't really notice that you're eating leftovers.

There's no better place to count our blessings than around the Thanksgiving table. May yours be especially thankful and delicious this year.

Turkey and Corn Chowder

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 slices of lean bacon, diced

1 sweet onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 T butter

2-3 cups cooked turkey, diced (or chicken)

1 small can green chilies

1 teaspoon cumin (or more, to taste)

1 T hot sauce

One-half tsp. Salt

2 (~15oz.) cans white and yellow corn, drained (or fresh or frozen corn)

32 oz. chicken broth

2 cups half and half

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or your choice of a flavorful melting cheese)

Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish

Lime slices to garnish

Extra shredded cheese to garnish

Extra hot sauce to garnish

Pour olive oil into soup pot over medium heat. Add diced bacon and cook for a couple of minutes, then add diced onion and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Now add butter, and when melted add diced turkey and stir to combine. Next add green chilies, cumin, hot sauce and salt, along with corn and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and add half and half. Next, add cheese, and stir until melted and combined. Taste and adjust for salt and hotness.

Serve with chopped cilantro, lime slices, extra cheese and hot sauce as garnish.

The garnishes add great 'kicks' of flavor!

Curried Holiday Turkey Salad

Tip: for a really pretty presentation, cut the ends from croissants and fill with turkey salad. They look like little cornucopias.

1 cup dried cranberries

One-third cup orange juice (or wine, or apple juice)

7-8 cups chopped cooked turkey (light and dark meat)

1 cup quartered seedless grapes

1 cup toasted pecan halves, roughly chopped (want big pieces)--

2 stalks of celery, chopped

2 T cider vinegar

2 T sugar

1 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Curry powder

1 cup mayonnaise

Add dried cranberries and orange juice to small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stir, remove from heat and let the cranberries plump while making the rest of the salad.

Add chopped turkey, grapes, pecans and celery to large mixing bowl. Gently toss to combine.

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt and curry powder. Then add to mayonnaise and thoroughly combine. Add more salt or curry to taste.

Pour dressing over turkey mixture.

Drain cranberries and add to mixture. Gently fold together until everything is well combined.

Store in refrigerator.

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