In these times of 'ancestral' eating, turkey has got to be an all-star. Our ancestors used every part of an animal once it had been slaughtered for food. Nothing ever went to waste. I paid homage to my ancestors this week by using every bit of the 20 pound turkey I bought for this past Thanksgiving, including the bones and organ meat by boiling them to make one HUGE pot of Turkey Vegetable Barley Soup! This entire week has been ALL about turkey in our house, and no one has complained as of yet. (That might be because they are smart and realize it probably wouldn`t be a stellar idea to whine to their turkey-lovin`cook, or it just might be because they`ve enjoyed this past week of `Turkey Done Six Ways` - who knows for sure?). Either which way, I can`t think of another single protein that I can cook once and then make five more different, and delicious, meals out of the leftovers. Here`s the rundown on this past week of Turkey Done Six Ways:
FIrst, the all important Roast Turkey Dinner. Yes, stuffing the bird and keeping a watchful eye for 6 to 7 hours takes some patience and planning, but it`s certainly worth it! Were I to create a scent that was reminiscent of family and home, it surely would be the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven. I`ve said it before but it merits repeating: as far as I`m concerned, Roast Turkey Dinner with carrot, turnip, potato, green peas, Savory Bread Stuffing and Potato Dressing all blanketed in warm, silky turkey gravy, with a little homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce with Triple Sec on the side, and homemade Sliced Pumpkin Pie and an Apple Pie for dessert is quintessential comfort food, no question about it.
After the initial Roast Turkey Dinner was done, and when my guests had all gone home, as I was packing up the leftovers in storage containers, I threw the frame from the turkey and any little bits of meat, along with the wings and organ meat, into a large stock pot, poured enough water in to just about an inch or so above the frame, added a little salt, a couple of roughly chopped stalks of celery and an onion, quartered, and brought the works to a boil. I then reduced the temperature and let it simmer away while I cleaned up from our Thanksgiving Feast. Prior to going to bed, I shut off the burner under the pot. After breakfast was all cleared away the next morning, I turned it back on, and added the ends from the carrots and turnip I peeled for the soup. When my stock was done, I removed everything but the broth. I sauteed diced onion, celery, carrot and turnip in a large soup pot and let them 'sweat' before adding in my broth, about 2 cups of chopped leftover turkey and 1/2 cup of pearl barley. After it came to a boil, I let it simmer away on the stove, filling the house with the smell of motherly love! If there`s anything that`s a close second to the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven, it`s the scentl of homemade soup bubbling away on the stove.
Everyone went with their packed lunch of cold turkey sandwiches on that day, which was technically `Meal Number 3`. I simply spread some mayo on whole wheat bread, added some sliced turkey, a little leftover Savory Bread Stuffing and a couple of spoonfuls of Cranberry Orange Sauce. The sandwiches were anything but fancy, but there`s something to be said for a simple homemade turkey sandwich for lunch.
Meal Number 4 came Wednesday evening with Hot Turkey Sandwiches and Homefries cooked in the T-Fal Actifry. I know I`ve mentioned my Actifry before, but I just LOVE this little machine! It makes perfect, golden, crispy french fries using only 1 tablespoon of olive oil in 30 minutes. The pulsating hot air technology cooks homefries perfectly while keeping the fat content down, a big plus in my books, but another thing I love is how easy it is to clean-up. You can either wipe it out with a damp cloth or take it apart and pop the cookware parts into the dishwasher. As my little Gracie would say, 'Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!'.
For lunch today, I made Grilled Sweet Potato and Turkey sandwiches which, in my opinion, is quite possibly the most perfect sandwich in the world! I just slice up a sweet potato and quickly grill it in my stovetop grill pan. I top toasted whole wheat or multigrain bread with chipotle aioli, then layer grilled sweet potato, turkey, cranberry orange sauce, sliced baby cucumber and a little peppery aurugla. The combination of char and sweetness from the sweet potato, crunch from the baby cucumber and aurugla, tartness of the cranberry orange sauce, tantalizing turkey and the little spicy bite from the chipotle aioli all comes together to make a sandwich that whisks you away to your happy place, leaving you with a Mona Lisa smile on your lips. I kid you not, it really is THAT good...if there`s only one thing you try from all of the things I blab on and on about, this sandwich is it!
Our last turkey meal, until Christmas anyway, was Twisted Turkey Pot Pie. I have a confession to make: I'm not a potato fan, when it comes to them being chunked or mashed anyway. I can eat them roasted with herbs, scalloped, in an au gratin, homefries, croquettes or even baked but I just can't take to them boiled and mashed or in chunks in a stew or pot pie. I'm sure there's some deep seeded childhood reason for that, but I'd rather not open that Pandora's Box, if you know what I mean. Given that I don't really like potatoes, I decided to come up with a pot pie that I could wrap my mouth around....one without potatoes. Twisted Turkey Pot Pie is a mixture of carrot, broccoli and cauliflower, blanketed in an onion/celery/thyme cream sauce, topped with a lattice crust made from store bought crescent rolls. Other than making the sauce, it takes less than 10 minutes to put the pot pie together, and only 35 minutes baked in a 350 degree Fahrentheit oven. This dish is one of my family's favourites and certainly a befitting way to bid 'adieu' to turkey.... until we meet again.
There is no Meal Number 7 and the reason for that is that I don't cook on Fridays. On Fridays, we eat out and I don't feel the least bit guilty about it! Even Our Lord rested on the seventh day! (Not that I'm comparing myself to God or anything...I'm not that big of an egotist!). I prefer to think of it as 'inspiration fueling' as opposed to me just shutting down my kitchen. Irregardless, closing out Turkey Week is a bittersweet thing for me. If there were a twelve step program for turkeyholics, I'd probably be a card-carrying member. I love turkey. I love how it smells when it's cooking, I love how it tastes and I absolutely love all the delicious meals I can cook with one turkey deal! But alas, woman can not live on turkey alone and despite my love affair with all things gobble gobble, I am a fickle gal....already my mind is wandering to red meat and as I write this, my excitement is mounting as I wonder what will I prepare for Date Night at Home this Saturday.
Turkey....one deal, six meals....easy, healthied-up, inexpensive AND delicious!