Pork Free Post: Thanksgiving…..and the Leftovers

30 Nov

This year we hosted Thanksgiving, cooking a feast for my parents and a few friends. It was my first year cooking for Thanksgiving  since being gluten-free, which was kind of frightening at first. I knew I had to have stuffing, but would I be able to make one that “normal” people could eat….and enjoy? And what about the gravy? Yes, you can use cornstarch, but making a roux for the gravy base with butter and flour is just so much better. I was perplexed, but knew I’d make it work somehow.

I managed to figure out recipes that would work for everyone, and they all turned out great. The turkey was from Deistel farms in Sonoma County. I used this recipe from Epicurious, and it turned out fabulous. Brining is the way to go – once you brine, you’ll never go back. Rather than melting the butter and brushing it over the turkey, I opted to rub it under the skin. More flavor and more juice. The gravy could have been eaten as a soup it was so good. Definitely a super success there, even with the roux made with gluten-free flour. The stuffing was a simple herb and onion stuffing with pecans and cranberries added, and of course, I used Rudi’s gluten-free multigrain bread. It was great – definitely did not taste “special needs” at all. For the mashed potatoes I took a cue from my shepherd’s pie recipe, and made an herb infused milk that was added along with cream and butter. It just gave it something extra and was oh so delicious. The veggie sides were nothing fancy, but were good. Christian really wanted steamed peas and onions (which was great b/c it gave me one non-labor intensive thing to make), and we also had some roasted carrots with a pecan gremolata. The cranberry sauce was made fresh and flavored with cloves and orange (through orange juice and zest). The dessert was an apple crisp with a homemade egg-free Maple Spice Ice Cream. Yum. We ate and enjoyed.

So now that the main meal is over, I’m tasked with figuring out inventive things to make with the leftovers. We had to order a larger size turkey than we needed, so we ended up with a lot more turkey leftover than I had anticipated. We’ve done the turkey sandwiches, the typical turkey dinner plate with the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy, and I’ve made a rich, velvety turkey stock with the carcass. Now it is on to something more. There was enough turkey to make 3 meals for me and Christian, and each one was pretty different. Sort of an around the world with turkey thing. I spent Saturday after the holiday cooking and inventing, which was a great way to spend yet another early winter snowy day.

I like the first and third recipe best because of their versatility. Both dishes could use chicken, or even pork,  making them good recipes for other times of the year.

Recipe #1: Spicy Turkey and Bean Soup

This was developed using things I had on hand. The soup is very simple, with nice heat and flavor. A really good soup to have stored away in the freezer for an easy weeknight meal (although I did not do this). I think it would be great with cornbread if you’ve got some leftover or want to make some. Definitely received a thumbs up from the husband, despite his original pre-eating, disappointed sounding comment of “aaawwww, turkey and bean soup?”. Yes, turkey and bean soup and it will be good.

Spicy Turkey and Bean Soup

  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp jarred or canned jalepenos, chopped finely
  • 3 cups homemade turkey stock, plus 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded turkey
  • 1 can cannellini beans

Heat some olive oil to a dutch over or heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the jalepenos and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cumin, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the rosemary, thyme, turkey stock and water. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and add the turkey and beans. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. When done, remove the thyme sprigs and serve.

Recipe #2: Turkey and Stuffing Cakes w/ Cranberry Mayonnaise

I wasn’t sure what to do with the minimal stuffing that we had left – there wasn’t enough for both us to share. I knew I’d want some, and I knew Christian would want some, so being the good wife that I am, I figured out how we both could savor the last few bites. This recipe is basically a Thanksgiving crab cake, sans the crab of course. I drizzled some left over gravy on the plate and placed the cakes over that, then topped with the cranberry mayonnaise. Also, the pecans are in there because I had some left. If you don’t have them, it won’t make or break the recipe. Christian loved these.

Turkey and Stuffing Cakes with Cranberry Mayonnaise

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover turkey
  • 1 cup leftover stuffing
  • 1/4 cup cranberry sauce, plus another 2 to 3 tbsp
  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • handful of chopped mixed herbs (I used thyme, rosemary and parsley)
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise, divided
  • 2 to 3 tbsp cranberry sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • chopped parsley, for garnish

Add the turkey to a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the herbs and mix. Crumble the stuffing until coarse and add to the turkey-herb mixture. Add the 1/4 cup cranberry sauce, pecans, eggs and 2 tbsp mayonnaise and combine well. Form into patties and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate these for at least one hour and up to one day.

Meanwhile, puree 2 to 3 tbsp cranberry sauce in a food processor. Mix with the remaining 2 tbsp mayonnaise and 1 tsp fresh rosemary.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add cakes, 2 or 3 at a time, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn over and cook until browned. Serve with aioli and/or leftover gravy on the side.

Recipe #3: Turkey Curry

This isn’t a super traditional curry, but it is very tasty. I got the recipe from Epicurious and tweaked it a bit. We didn’t have any apples, mango chutney (I think Christian is mangoed out for now anyway) or cilantro, but I don’t think it mattered much. Everything else I actually had on hand, which is random – whipping cream and apple cider are not staples in our house. Plus I rarely have any tomato paste open since I never use it in time, but thanks to the soup I made, I have actually have two recipes that require it. I still won’t use it all in time, but at least I’ll use more than I normally do and won’t feel as wasteful.

For the hot pepper powder, I used some spice our friend John gave us from Africa that is crazy hot, but you can use cayenne or any other hot spice. I did this because our curry powder isn’t a good, hot curry – if yours is, then you may not have to worry about adding extra heat. I also added a lot more curry powder (used the amount for the full recipe that serves 6). As it was cooking, it was just bland to me. Adding the additional curry powder definitely helped keep it interesting.

Turkey Curry with Saffron Rice

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped and peeled
  • 1 garlic cove, mined
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour (gluten free or regular)
  • 2 1/3 tbsp curry powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of hot red pepper powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock/broth
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, coarsely chopped
  • jasmine or basmati rice
  • saffron threads

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic; saute until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, curry powder, cumin and hot pepper; saute 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in broth. Add the cider, cream and tomato paste. Redce heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. Add the turkey and stir until heated, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook rice with water and saffron threads.

Spoon curry over rice. Top with shredded unsweetened coconut, if desired.

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