Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Secrets and Leftover Treasures

Clearly Shiv's been busy. I have to admit, I'm a little jealous of that feast—mint julep pie???

The thing is, I'm also jealous of the leftovers. We could have tupperwared some up from our Virginia celebration, but the long car/train ride wouldn't have been great in terms of food safety. I'm sure plenty of you are in the same position—what if you need leftovers and don't have any?

The answer is to roast up a couple of turkey legs (cheaply available post-holiday). I cooked four of them for about twenty minutes at 450 and 45 minutes at 400 after rubbing them with a little mustard, olive oil, and thyme. Why? My cravings for leftover turkey are threefold:

First, the meat will be perfect in an old-school casserole I'll make tomorrow: bechamel, broccoli, pasta, cheese, and turkey meld beautifully and some breadcrumbs will brown on top. My mom used to make a similar one with leftover chicken, but turkey's even better.

Second, the bones! If you still have a turkey carcass in your fridge, or you roast up some pieces like I did, please consider turkey stock. More flavorful than chicken broth, with a deep richness, turkey broth is the cold-battler of choice at our place. Matt grew up with it, and chicken broth just won't do when he has that pitiful nose-red-from-kleenexes look going. Tonight I'm trying the slow-cooker method (carrots, onions, roasted bones with a bit of the meat, and necks in the slow cooker with enough water to come within an inch of the top of the container. I'm cooking it for a few hours on high then switching to low for a total of 12 hours.) I particularly love turkey broth as a base for a greens-and-white-beans soup.

Finally, the secret, which I promised you back when we were talking about brisket.

My future mother-in-law's secret to easy Thanksgivings (and other turkey-based entertaining) is to always be one gravy ahead. The gravy from the previous turkey is frozen and rewarmed for the current meal. There is no last-minute gravy-making as you juggle side dishes and pies, carving and tablesetting, bread slicing and salad-making. You already have the gravy. Then, you make the next gravy later, while someone else is doing the dishes, or the next day, if you chucked the whole roasting pan and turkey carcass in the fridge to deal with later. Make your soup, make your gravy, freeze it, and then you'll never be harried on Thanksgiving again.

Of course, to get one gravy ahead, you either have to make volumes of gravy at some point and have leftovers, or create your own leftovers (as I did tonight) and make a gravy to save.

Consider it a gift to your future self.


Joanna said...

Okay, I kind of love this idea. Partly because, like you, I am leftover-less (that's what happens when you drag all your laundry to your parents' house for the weekend and have so many clothes to carry that adding a food container to the mix is just out of the question), and partly because so many turkeys nowadays have measly little legs. And everyone knows the legs are the best part! So maybe I will take matters into my own hands and buy them separately so I can roast up some turkey legs this weekend.

EB of SpiceDish said...

I love that you went out to source non-leftover Thanksgiving leftovers. Awesome.

Heather said...

that looks delicious. i love that you rub them in mustard! i'm pretty sure you're only allowed to eat turkey legs if you hold them like a popsicle and eat right off the bone. i hope you followed that rule... otherwise the culinary gods might get you ;)

shiv said...

I want a bumper sticker that says "One Gravy Ahead."

AnticiPlate said...


Lisa said...

Ha--I was thinking the same thing! Or maybe a T-shirt.

alexandra's kitchen said...

that is a perfect solution! i am without leftovers as well. And i love the dark meat. I am looking forward to seeing the old-school casserole recipe.

maggie said...

Unfortunately I didn't photograph...the casserole is really dead easy. Cook pasta (I like bowties) and make a quick bechamel (cook 2 T flour and knob of butter in a pan, add warm milk and whisk over low flame until it thickens, add a sprinkle of nutmeg and thyme). Add cooked turkey and toss until warm, add pasta and grated cheese, toss, then add steamed broccoli florets. Top with panko crumbs and broil until golden!

Sam said...

We always make stock with the turkey bones after Christmas (no thanksgiving for me! :()

Some great tips here, I like the sound of that casserole!