If you are roasting a turkey for today's feast, then you have one more thing to be thankful for: You are more than halfway to several other easy meals over the next few days.
Today, most of us sit down to eat turkey cooked as we imagine it was done in Plymouth at the meal shared by Pilgrims and the native Wampanoag.
But tomorrow, with spices and cooking methods from a few other cultures, you can give this leftover savory meat a whole new identity.
Shredded or sliced, cooked turkey makes a great filling for Southwestern enchiladas, burritos, or tacos. The deep flavor is also exceptional when paired with Asian spices and seasonings. For those (such as my mother) who can't abide re-warmed turkey, the tender meat is perfect cold as an addition to a light but hearty seasonally appropriate Turkey Waldorf Salad with crunchy apples, celery, and walnuts.
But the most valuable prize that comes with a roasting bird is the chance to make a rich and useful stock. Strong, flavorful turkey broth makes a great base for noodle soups, stews, fricassees, gravies, risottos, and pot pies.
I find the easiest way to carve and serve turkey also allows a turkey stock to be simmering away before dessert is served.
After your turkey is cooked and has rested out of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, set it on a large cutting board. Remove any stuffing to a lidded bowl. Have a warm platter ready. With a sharp boning knife, cut through each thigh joint and remove the thighs and legs from the roasted bird. Remove the skin if you desire, and slice this dark meat from the bones (or just split each thigh from its drumstick if serving on the bone). Slice along each side of the breastbone and remove each side of the breast as one large piece. Lay the breast meat on a cutting board, and slice across the grain. Cut through the joint in the wings and remove. Cut or pull the meat away from the bones, or serve the wings bone-in.
Then, examine the remaining carcass and slice or pry off any good pieces of meat left along the back or sides. Carving your turkey in the kitchen is a little less showy than doing it at the table, but much more practical.
You now have a carcass and many loose bones that can be placed directly into a stockpot. Cover with cold water, add a few stalks of chopped celery, a few chopped carrots, several onions quartered, and a head of garlic halved.
While you're at it (or after dinner) add a bay leaf, a few stalks of thyme, and some whole peppercorns. Plan ahead as you cook, and save tops and scraps to a bag and just dump these flavorful additions right into your stockpot. (The ends and peels of winter squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, apples, parsley ends, fennel and leek tops all add great flavors, nutrients, and color to broth.)
Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for several hours or overnight. Have the basic vegetables ready ahead and, rather than finding room to store your carcass in an already overstuffed refrigerator, you are well on your way to your next delicious dish before this year's Thanksgiving feast is even digested.
Makes 4 servings
2 cups shredded roast
2 green onions, including
tender green tops, thinly
3 tablespoons cream cheese,
at room temperature
11/3 cups (51/2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
2 cans (7 ounces each) salsa
verde, or 1 can (13 ounc- es) tomatillos, drained
2 tablespoons canned
chopped green chiles,
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup canola oil
8 corn tortillas
1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, green onions, cream cheese, and 1 cup of jack cheese and stir to mix thoroughly. Set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the salsa verde, chiles, cilantro, and cream and process until smooth.
3. Heat the oil in a heavy, 6-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, carefully place 1 tortilla at a time in the hot oil and fry for 5 to 10 seconds, just until softened. Flip the tortilla and soften the other side. Drain over the skillet, then place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Place another paper towel on top and press to absorb the oil. Repeat until all 8 tortillas are softened and drained.
4. Divide the turkey mixture among the tortillas (about 1/2 cup each), mounding it in a line down the center. Roll tightly and place, seam side down, in a 7-by-11-inch baking pan. Pour the tomatillo-cream sauce over the enchiladas, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup jack cheese down the center. Bake for about 20 minutes until heated through and bubbly. Serve immediately.
The enchiladas can be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before baking. Plan on 30 to 35 minutes until the casserole is heated through and bubbly.
Per serving: 709 calories, 37 grams protein, 33 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar, 49 grams fat, 155 milligrams cholesterol, 938 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.
Makes 8 to 10 servings, about 21/2 quarts
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, minced fine
2- to 3-inch piece of fresh
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 to 3 stalks celery, tops
2 to 3 carrots, trimmed,
8 to 10 cups rich turkey
broth (or chicken stock)
2/3-1 cup orzo pasta (or
large handful of dried
1/2-1 cup leftover cooked
turkey (or chicken)
1-2 tablespoons toasted
Fresh chopped cilantro
1. In a large heavy-bottom soup pot, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
2. While the onion is cooking, prepare the ginger and garlic. Grate the first inch of ginger with a fine grater over a small bowl to catch the juice. Cut the remaining 2-inch piece into thin disks. Stack half the disks and cut into thin strips. The remaining ginger should be minced finely. Add the ginger together in the small bowl. Mince two cloves of garlic. Press the remaining two cloves through a garlic press into the bowl with the ginger and chopped garlic.
3. Add the celery and carrots to the onions and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the stock and simmer gently for about an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the orzo and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked turkey or chicken and bring back to a boil. Add the sesame oil, taste, and adjust salt and seasoning. Stir well.
4. Serve with garnishes as desired.
Notes: Slicing and grating the ginger adds a textural surprise and extra flavor. If using rice noodles, serve with traditional pho garnishes such as a slice of lime, bean sprouts, sliced chili peppers, fresh mint, cilantro, and basil leaves to add as desired to each bowl.
Per serving (based on 10): 116 calories, 5 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 4 grams fat, 7 milligrams cholesterol, 790 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Makes 4 servings
For the dressing:
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons buttermilk or
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh
tarragon or parsley
Zest of 1/2 an orange
Salt & pepper
For the salad:
3 tart, crisp apples, peeled,
cored and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon
1/2 cup seedless grapes,
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
3 stalks celery, washed and
2 scallions, minced fine
1 cup roasted turkey, cubed
1 bunch watercress, or Bibb
lettuce, washed and
1. To prepare the dressing, whisk ingredients until smooth, taste and season well with salt and fresh pepper.
2. Toss the chopped apples with the lemon juice. Add the grapes, walnuts, celery, scallions, and turkey and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional lemon juice, salt & pepper as needed.
3. Arrange on a bed of watercress or Bibb lettuce and top with walnuts.
Note: Optional garnishes include a few more toasted walnuts, sliced apples, dried cranberries, roasted beets, or some blue or goat cheese.
Per serving: 296 calories, 13 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams sugar, 18 grams fat, 33 milligrams cholesterol, 281 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.