While many cooks are fixated on bronzing a photogenic holiday turkey, I’m hyper focused on how what we don’t eat is cut up and put away.
That’s because I spend the week leading up to Thanksgiving plotting what to do with leftover turkey. Today’s turkey nachos have been buzzing around in my mind for a few days, the same way that ideas for stories or poem sometimes do. Turkey tom kha gai is what I’ve got cooking tomorrow.
Turkey Nachos “Recipe”
I layered blue corn chips, cubes of thigh I seasoned with salt, cumin and smoked paprika and seared to warm it up, and then a mixture of half Chihuahua cheese for meltiness and half white cheddar for flavor. A quick broil later and they were a great late lunch.
In the spirit of using leftovers, I gave a place of honor to a slightly-too-ripe avocado that was much more delicious than it was photogenic. I mashed it on the cutting board with salt and pepper, lime juice and a little cayenne. I used Frontera tomatilla salsa, a great product made by Chicago chef Rick Bayless, for its perfect tangy acidity. I would have topped it with persimmon, “fall’s tomato,” which I just discovered yesterday, if I had any!
As mentioned before, my turkey carcass is broken down with leftovers in mind. If you’re one of those people who tends to slice everything up for sandwiches, consider instead some other applications when you’re putting the turkey away.
I left the wing parts, which I will buffalo-tize for a meal for me and Alan later this week. I cut some larger cubes to use for soups, pastas or stuffing an eggplant is another thought that’s taking shape, perhaps seasoned like a tagine, with prunes and walnuts.
I processed the schmaltz from the turkey drippings, and it’s in a Ball jar, ready to use in mashed potatoes, or roux. I even thought about making biscuits from the drippings to eat the turkey that I DID slice for sandwiches.
And finally, I put all the bones and scraps into the roaster, filled it will cold water and added sliced onion, celery, bay leaves, fennel scraps and peppercorns to make a stock. It will be ultra gelatinous; even after I skim the fat that will come to the top, it will form a quivering jello in its Tupperware. We might make a gingery pho, or turkey and cornmeal dumplings, or just drink it from coffee cups. Whatever the spirit moves.