November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Stew Re-do

Now that the Thanksgiving dinner is all done, it's time to start my favorite holiday meal. This post is from last year, but I think it's worth another go.

I call it either leftover soup or Thanksgiving stew.  I think I love it more than the actual turkey dinner.

To start, you have to cook down your carcass.  This is sort of a lost art and slightly gross to me, but it’s necessary for both good stock and the best little bits of leftover turkey.  I immediately package up all the extra meat and freeze it, because one extra turkey meal is all my family can stand.

Then I throw the turkey carcass into a big stock pot with enough water to cover it most of the way; bring it to a boil, then drop the temperature low enough for a nice steady simmer.  I usually let it simmer for about 2-3 hours, and then begin the job of picking bones out.  

Once I have my good turkey stock and all the meat cooked off, I start adding in all the leftovers—I do mean all the leftovers.  The amounts aren’t really all that important to me.  This year, we had a big bird and a lot of leftovers, so I actually divided my stock and meat for two meals.  I saved half of it for “chicken and noodles” and used the rest for the soup.  If I had to measure, I’d say it was about 3 cups of stock and meat.   

When I roast the turkey, I stuff an onion and a whole garlic bulb (not a clove, the whole thing) into the cavity.  After it's all cooked down, I dispose of the bones, leave the onion in the pot, and then use a garlic press to get all the roasted garlic out into the stock.

To that I add in everything:
  •   About 2 cups of dressing/stuffing.  I make my dressing (I don’t stuff the bird with it, so I don’t call it stuffing) specifically for the leftover potential.  I have a great recipe that uses dried cherries and pecans, and it adds so much to the flavor of the soup.  You can use whatever recipe is your favorite.

  • About 2 cups of mashed potatoes.
  • About 1 cup of turkey gravy.
  • About 1-2 cups of liquid reserved from cooking the turkey the first time.  I rub it with herb butter, so it’s really healthy.  Look at it in all its congealed goodness.

  • All the chopped up leftover vegetables from the relish tray.  This depends on what we have left.  I always have carrots and celery, but sometimes I also have cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers.  You add whatever you have and think would be good. 

  • Did you have cooked corn?  Throw it in.  Leftover green bean casserole?  Sure, why not?  I don’t have any sweet potato lovers in my house, so I think they’re the only thing that doesn’t go into the pot.
You don’t need ANY extra seasonings, because everything was seasoned properly when you made it the first time.  Simmer the whole pot full of leftovers for an hour or so, or until it cooks down a bit and the carrots are soft.  Eat and enjoy.

I make a huge pot of this soup.  We eat some, then the rest of it is packaged and thrown in the freezer for later meals.   

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