April 6, 2020
Turkey has become synonymous with festive gatherings, an ideal protein to serve when you have a dozen people around the table.
Roast turkey became popular largely because it’s an efficient way to feed a small crowd, but it’s equally well-suited to feeding a few people over days, weeks or even months. Roast a turkey once, and not only do you have a fantastic dinner, you have the makings of several others—plus a big batch of stock. Any meat cooked on the bone is more flavourful than cuts removed before cooking, so chopped roasted turkey can be swapped in for most any recipe that begins with sautéing a diced skinless, boneless chicken breast.
When you’re spending time at home, having a turkey in the oven requires little attention, and the smell of it roasting triggers the most comforting sense of nostalgia. Stuff it if you like, but it’s not necessary—like a roasted chicken, the cavity can be left empty, or stuffed with a halved lemon, fresh herbs, and/or garlic. An unstuffed turkey will roast even more quickly than a stuffed one, and you can veer from traditional Easter/Thanksgiving flavours with spice rubs and sauces, anything you might brush over a roasted chicken.
There’s the option to break a whole bird down—at home, or request your butcher to do it in-store—and roast pieces as you want them. A small bird will fit in a large slow cooker, which produces the most juicy, flavourful meat; you’ll get similar results by cooking each piece in a sous vide machine. However you prepare it, a whole turkey is economical, versatile, and can give you a head start on half a dozen meals. To get those creative juices going, here are ten dinner possibilities that could follow the big bird—we’ll share recipes for each of them over the next ten days. When you’re left with the bones, cover with water, add a small halved onion or afew green onions, some parsley (just the stems are fine, if you’ve used the leaves), a carrot and celery stock, a few peppercorns and a bay leaf, if you have one; bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool and strain into containers to store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage.
Turkey Curry: sauté a few vegetables - a chopped onion, red pepper, zucchini, a couple small potatoes - anything goes in a curry. Add a spoonful of curry paste to the pan and half to a full 14 oz (398 mL) can of coconut milk; bring to a simmer, stir in chopped roasted turkey and cook until it thickens and the veg are tender. (A handful of torn spinach stirred in at the end is delicious.) Serve hot over rice, topped with chopped peanuts and/or cilantro.
Quesadillas: fold flour tortillas in half, open again and sprinkle one side with grated cheddar, Gouda or Monterey Jack, chopped roast turkey and your choice of fillings - finely chopped peppers, tomatoes, purple onion, black beans, sautéed mushrooms - whatever you like. Sprinkle with more cheese to ensure it glues itself closed. Close the tortilla and cook in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until golden and crispy on both sides. Serve in wedges with salsa and sour cream.
Mulligatawny: sauté a chopped onion, carrot, celery stalk and a few crushed cloves of garlic in a drizzle of oil; add a spoonful of grated fresh ginger and another of curry paste. Pour in 1 L stock, along with a cup or two of chopped roasted turkey, a chopped apple and half a can of coconut milk, if you like. Simmer a few minutes and serve hot, ladled over a scoop of rice.
Turkey Pot Pie or Creamed Turkey on Toast: sauté a chopped onion, carrot and celery stalk in a drizzle of oil and dab of butter. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp flour overtop, then stir in 2 cups chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until it thickens; stir in 2 cups chopped roasted turkey and a handful of peas; simmer 5 minutes. Add a splash of cream and serve over toast, or spread in a shallow baking dish, top with thawed puff pastry or mashed potatoes, and bake at 375F for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
Pulled Turkey Sandwiches: pull the skin off your turkey and shred the meat with two forks; moisten with barbecue sauce and serve on soft rolls with creamy coleslaw.
Homemade Stock: for a deeper, richer stock, start by roasting dry bones in the oven until they darken. Put the carcass into a pot and add water to almost cover it. Add a few veggies, if you like—onion skins will make a dark stock as well - and celery leaves and carrot stumps are perfect. If you want to add Asian flavours, toss in a few slices of ginger and a stalk of lemongrass. Bring to a simmer and cook for about half an hour; strain, pulling extra meat off the bones if you want it, and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months.
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