Monthly Archives: November 2011
Every Thanksgiving once the turkey carcass is picked clean, it goes into my 6 quart crockpot with a lot of water and gets cooked down alternating between “low” and “warm” for about two days. I know it’s done when I can pick out a little bit of meat from the pot, eat it, and taste pretty much nothing–that means the flavor is all cooked out into the stock.
I strain it and dispose of the bones and gook, and then I either freeze the stock itself or, if I don’t have much room in the freezer like this year, cook it down at a slow simmer over several hours into a very strong concentrate that I can then freeze in small portions and reconstitute with water as needed through the winter.
The only tricky part of doing this is the math, and it needs some low-key babysitting to make sure it doesn’t burn. If I started with 2 quarts of stock, I want to cook it down to maybe half a quart of concentrate, or just under. To intensify the flavor even more, as it got pretty close to the target amount, I added about a third of a cup of leftover gravy to the liquid.
Once I had it down to the target 2 cups, I poured it in 1/4-cup quantities into muffin tins. I put them into the freezer, and once solid, they can be saved over the winter to drop into a pot or mug with hot water to make soup.
I’ve gotta say, this broth concentrate is delicious. I use port wine in my gravy and to baste the turkey, so especially once the gravy was added this stuff is incredibly rich and flavorful. I can’t wait to cook with it.
This of course works for chicken stock too, it isn’t just a Thanksgiving thing. But for the turkey stock, it’s a beautiful way to deal with the stock without taking too much room in the freezer.
Over the past few days and doubtless for several to come, I have been posting about my own adventures in creatively using up our Thanksgiving leftovers…at the Green Phone Booth today I have a whole post with links to others’ ideas on the topic…
This year I deliberately made too many mashed potatoes, just so I could try this recipe. SO worth it.
I love going to restaurants and ordering their “loaded baked potato soup,” but even as I see it on the menu and desire it, I know it’s horrible from a nutritional standpoint. High fat, high sodium, probably laden with all kinds of weird chemicals…
But this is so amazingly easy, and compares really favorably with the restaurant stuff…
Easy Potato Soup
If desired, chop up a slice or two of bacon and saute till crisp.
Add 1 part broth and 2 parts leftover mashed potatoes. Heat on low, stirring, until potatoes are smoothly incorporated into the liquid. Adjust quantities if needed; add more broth if it’s thicker than you’d like, and more potatoes if it’s too thin.
Remove from heat; add a small handful of grated cheddar cheese per cup of mashed potatoes you put in; stir till the cheese is melted and nicely incorporated.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped scallions.
The above is the complicated version; you can really do it with nothing more than mashed potatoes, broth or milk, and salt and pepper. But the other stuff, especially the cheese, really adds to the effect…
I’ll be taking this for lunch pretty much all week.
Usually by Saturday night we’re a little tired of straightforward Thanksgiving Redux.
So tonight I turned some of the turkey into a very delicious, very fast chili recipe:
Quick Turkey Chili
- Saute in a little oil till soft: 2-3 cloves garlic, 1 medium onion, 1 bell pepper
- Add a cup or two cut up cooked turkey and a can of white or other beans (drained)
- Stir in 1-2 tsp chili powder and 1-2 tsp ground cumin (to taste–as much as you’d like, really!), and possibly 1/2 tsp salt if your broth isn’t salted
- Add 1/2 cup turkey (or other) broth and 1/4-1/2 cup prepared salsa.
- If desired, sprinkle a little flour over the top and stir in, or make a flour-water “slurry” to thicken slightly.
- Let simmer uncovered until it’s the consistency you like. Serve over rice or with/in tortillas
This was delicious. And made some good leftovers–we’ll take some for lunches on Monday. Enjoy!
Last night I managed to get my Google Reader from “1000+ unread” down to “760 unread”. That’s progress, right?
A few interesting ones I want to keep track of:
Crunchy Betty’s “Nutty Butt Butter” lotion bar recipe. This looks awesome. It also seems like the perfect gift for someone, but you can’t really give a friend something that says, “Hey, I notice you have cellulite on your butt, here’s something to help reduce it!”…so I’ll just make some for myself. (Erm…if any of my friends read this who WOULD like some of this, let me know; I wouldn’t presume!) Her recipes for other lotion bars can be found here…
Crunchy Betty had another keeper pop up since I’ve been regularly blog-reading…a recipe for echinacea-elderberry syrup. I’m kicking myself because I just placed and received an order from Mountain Rose Herbs and didn’t even think to order elderberries, which would have been a really good idea. We have two new bushes out back that we planted in spring, and hopefully they’ll begin producing in the next couple of years, but for the moment we’re still spending way too much on the commercial stuff–elderberry syrup is a big hit in this house.
Check out this video and story–a private farm having people over for a farm-to-table dinner required to destroy all the food by pouring bleach on it because a health inspector came and decided they were in violation of…something. I find this obscene. They weren’t even allowed to feed the food to their pigs or compost it. Sick.
Enough of that. Too depressing. How about more ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers? These aren’t exactly earth-shattering–frittata, pot-pie, risotto, stuff like that–but they are good ideas. I’ll be making mashed potato soup and potato pancakes with some of the many mashed potato leftovers I’ve got, and I won’t be surprised if most of the turkey just gets eaten one way or the other before it even needs to be frozen. The Green Phone Booth also has a leftovers post, and there are several floating around…
That’s enough for now, I think. We’re going to go eat pie for lunch.
Okay, I’m stuffed too full right now to manage any better puns; please forgive me.
Had an experiment this year with the sweet potatoes. The sort of embarrassing reason was that I discovered, while cleaning out the freezer to make room for Thanksgiving goodies, two little frozen half-cups of last year’s cranberry orange relish. It’s delicious stuff, but a single recipe just plain makes too much for us all to eat, and I figured I’d thaw it out at various moments through the year…and forgot. (I will say, it freezes very well!)
So while I didn’t want to serve it as “the” relish this year, since it’s the one thing everyone in my family goes nuts over, I still wanted it out of the freezer especially if I was now going to make more.
So I thawed it out, and this year after boiling my sliced sweet potatoes till soft, I layered the yams and relish in a covered glass casserole dish all the way up to the top, and sprinkled a little cinnamon over it. (Next time I’ll skip the cinnamon; totally unnecessary.) When the turkey came out of the oven, the casserole dish went in. I had to raise the oven temp to 450 to make the bread, which is hotter than this needs to be, but it did fine over the next half hour and was just sort of bubbling away by the time the bread was done. (Uncovered it would have been a dried out burnt-on-top mess.)
This was delicious. Almost too sweet, since the relish is sweetened a bit and the potatoes are sweet enough to begin with, but the cranberries and oranges gave a perfect complementary flavor to the yams. I suspect it would work equally well with pretty much any cranberry sauce recipe you have. Even if you didn’t make this for The Big Day, it would be a great use of leftovers or festive winter dish at any other time. Really good.
We are planning a very simple Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Just the close family; no guests this year.
Somehow in the past few years we’ve settled on a fairly basic and standard Thanksgiving dinner repertoire–figuring out what to eat really doesn’t happen any more. We just sort of…know.
So here’s our spread:
Turkey. Of course. I always stuff the actual bird, despite site after site telling me not to, because not only does it make the stuffing taste better, it make the turkey taste better too, if I cook it slow enough and put foil over the breast. I confess I don’t get a free range bird; we get a kosher one from Trader Joe’s. (One of these years…) Generously basted with port wine. Yumm.
Stuffing. This year I’m varying the recipe a little from the apple-and-nut one I’ve used in years past. Not sure what I’m varying it to, but that’ll depend on what muse strikes me in the morning when I have to put it together.
Garlic Smashed Potatoes. I don’t peel them, just cook them within an inch of their lives and schmush them up with some milk and butter I’ve sauteed garlic in. And salt and pepper. Lovely and delicious, and it’s easy to make potato soup or colcannon or something out of the leftovers, if they last long enough. Potato pancakes are yummy and easy too…
Sweet Potatoes. In years past we’ve baked them with pecans, brown sugar, and bourbon. But I found a recipe that basically involves baking them in cranberry sauce, and my husband is okay with my giving that a try (as long as we also get cranberry sauce.)
Cranberry sauce, or really, relish. My mom’s recipe–you basically just process a bag of cranberries, an orange (peel and all), and a little sugar until it tastes right. Incredibly easy, and absolutely delicious. We love it.
Dinner rolls of some kind; usually I make these from Artisan Bread Dough; they are easy that way. I am considering trying some kind of simple drop biscuit recipe this year just so I don’t have to deal with yeast and stuff, but we’ll see…
Some green vegetable that we make and eat out of obligation, because this much gut-stuffing without some pretense at a green vegetable just seems a little obscene. This year that will be green beans, probably sauteed in garlic and onion. In my own family it was brussels sprouts that were the obligation, but even with this really good recipe, no one but me would eat them in this household.
Pies. Yes, I will make a pumpkin one and an apple one, even though there are only four of us. It’s Thanksgiving. What can you do?
That’s pretty much it. We’re not that glamourous, but we love it. And the leftovers will make us happy for days/weeks to come. We’ll just do Thanksgiving Redux for a few days, and then anything uneaten will go into the freezer to be pulled out as desired. The turkey carcass goes into the crockpot with water for stock, which I’ll then cook down into concentrated ice cubes to reconstitute with water somewhere along the line. We’ll eat well this winter.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
This recipe is freely inspired by and largely borrowed from Going Green Mama’s Fresh Tomato Soup recipe. My dancing taste buds are eternally grateful.
Fresh Tomato-Basil Soup
- Slip fresh tomatoes into boiling water for about 2 minutes, then remove and dunk quickly into a sink-full of ice water to stop cooking. The peels will slide right off. (Note: the original recipe doesn’t require peeling the tomatoes; I just wanted my end result a little chunkier, and so I didn’t want to blend it quite as much.)
- Core the tomatoes and cut up into pieces, till you have about 8 cups of tomatoes and juice.
- In a little oil in your soup pan, saute A Whole Bunch of Garlic and a large chopped white onion till golden and translucent. Add half a cup or so red wine.
- Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a slow simmer. Pulse with a hand blender till it’s about the consistency you want.
- Add 1-2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and maybe 1 tsp oregano if you want. Also optional is 1/2 tsp thyme and/or a bay leaf or two. (Make sure you do all your pulsing before you add the bay leaves–you don’t want pulverized bay chunks in your soup!)
- Let simmer about an hour or until it tastes nearly “right.”
- Near the end: add 2-3 tbs. prepared pesto sauce or fresh chopped basil (or more, of either one–I don’t know in the end how much I added).
- Immediately before serving, if desired, drizzle in 1/2 cup cream or half and half. Or more. Or less. I also added just a touch more wine.
(Don’t you love these really unscientific recipes?)
In the original recipe, it was supposed to be fresh pasta sauce that ended up as tomato soup. That’s a lot like what this is–the rich flavors of good red sauce, but in a soup.
OMG, you have to try this:
I made it today. It didn’t go entirely smoothly–even though I left the skin on the apples when I cooked them into applesauce, and boiled the heck out of the jam and it passed the wrinkle test and everything, it didn’t quite “set up” right…at least not yet. But who cares, when something tastes this good? Slightly runny deliciousness instead of set jammy deliciousness.
I didn’t have a vanilla bean, and I didn’t have rum, so at the end of the recipe I used brandy instead, with a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract. The stuff is almost frighteningly sweet, and I think next time I might try it with added pectin and thus less added sugar, but still, wow, is this stuff amazing!
A lot of people suggest taking soup in mason jars–the kind we use for canning. But that just makes me nervous–I would be afraid of dropping and breaking them. I know more plastic is not what we would normally be looking for, but in this case I’m making an exception.
I ordered a few different items from reusit.com to try them out and see what works. My parameters: air-tight, BPA-free, microwaveable.
By far the best option has been the Snapware leak-proof containers. They are totally secure, and I can take even runny soup without the slightest drip. The Nalgene food jars are also pretty good, but the 8 oz. jars are tall and skinny. I should have gotten the 16 oz. even if I will rarely fill them; the smaller ones are more drink-y than soup-eat-y, know what I mean?
The one that was better in theory than in reality was the Kinderville silicone food jars. It’s an awesome design, and I loved the idea–these things seal themselves shut by air pressure or whatever, and they are very very cool. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to break the seal. Which I learned when I spilled soup all over the inside of my lunch bag. But…live and learn. I wouldn’t recommend these, honestly. It’s an air-tight, leak-proof seal until you break the seal. Which is very easy to do. It was an expensive experiment, and I may still send them back.
But it’s nice to take soup for lunch again.
Any readers have any other good solutions to this one? Safe and non-toxic ways to transport liquids?