turkey leftovers part two: united nations style

And since I’m on a roll with turkey leftovers…I’ve got a few more tricks in the bag.  Turkey is the traditional fowl in several brilliant and homey international dishes.

Check out this gorgeous version of fesejan, a Persian pomegranate-walnut sauce for turkey.  It features a homemade pomegranate reduction in lieu of the more modern pomegranate syrup.

Taiwanese Turkey Rice, which looks like rice stir-fried with turkey drippings and sometimes ground pork, is served with shredded turkey and a slice or two of bright yellow takuwan radish pickle on top.

And let’s not forget Sichuan cold chicken salad, a dish of shredded chicken with a bold dressing made from Sichuan peppercorns, scallions, and ginger.  I will often toss leftover chicken in the dressing, but it is terrific with turkey breast.  Here is a recipe adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop:

Hot-and-Numbing Sauce for Leftover Turkey 

6 scallions

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

2 teaspoons of preserved red chiles* or chopped red peppers

2  tablespoons white sugar

4 tablespoons light soy sauce

4 tablespoons chili oil

4 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper

Shred your leftover turkey.  Slice the scallions on the diagonal thinly and chop ginger and jalapeño.

Thinly slice the green onions diagonally.

Mix together the ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and oils.

Toss shredded turkey with dressing immediately prior to serving, then add scallions on top.  Grate Sichuan pepper and add to taste with salt.

*Available in jars in Chinese markets with other condiments.  Mine are from Sichuan province but any will do, really.  Just be careful with the Thai ones, as they are much hotter.

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benefit dinner at rabbit serves up boondockers and creative growers

Lovely fundraiser dinner for WFFC last night at The Rabbit. I got a chance to catch up with my friend and fellow Master Food Preserver Amy, of WFFC and Eugene Local Foods fame, and her husband Matt.  I met a tableful of new people, too.  I’ve been feeling a bit too cloistered, so it was nice to get out and talk to people from the community.

We started out with rabbit pâté bonbons, a fat cube of pâté frosted with foie gras, goat cheese, and some kind of delicious crunchies that may very well have been cracklins.  I am not ashamed to admit I ate about six of them.  Because seriously, WFFC dinner guests, I was NOT going to let those go back to the kitchen if you weren’t gonna eat them.

The tuna was seared and placed atop a nice little salad.  It wasn’t as good as, say, the silky watermelon gazpacho I had last week (and Chef Gil is letting me post the recipe — on to do list).  But it was bright and had enough nice acid to hold its own against the fresh albacore.

The Delaware chicken and Ancona duck were from Boondockers farm.  I had the pleasure of talking to Evan and Rachel, the farmers, and was really blown away by the conservation work they’re doing with the heritage breeds.  They actually breed the ducks on their farm instead of buying ducklings, and they’ve received a grant for an incubator and stock from venerable breeders.  Go ducks!  It’s really impressive and industrious.  They have been also working on other poultry species, including the chicken our chef served in a gallantine with an absolutely beautiful verjus mayo-ish concoction made with verjus, oil, and xanthan.  I was so happy to see the bed of red sweet and sour cabbage with the gallantine, what with my Eastern European fetish and all.

The duck was surrounded by small, jeweled vegetables from the other farm featured that night, Creative Growers, who provided most if not all of the produce.  I liked the addition of the slightly glazed chanterelle — it was like watching summer turn to fall right before our very eyes.  And don’t think we didn’t notice the various gizzardy bits in the sauce.  Pretty sneaky, delish!

The lamb, from Anderson Ranch at Long’s, was also delicious, a swirl of smoked jus jealously lurking around the real star of the show: a blackened, thick, smoked eggplant paste that set off the lamb perfectly. Oh, and the wines were really terrific, too, especially the Riesling matched with the gallantine.  The Lemelson was nothing to sneeze at, either.

And dessert was my fantasy, for the most part.  The pale rose caramel and glazed walnut were the only hint of sweetness.  A walnut cake and underripe seared peach were served with a peeled, marinated (I think) cherry tomato, like a full stop.

Thanks, Rabbit, Boondockers, and Creative Growers!  It was a wonderful meal and I so appreciate your efforts to improve the Eugene dining scene.  You’re doing fantastic work.

confit party

I’ve been teaching myself the ins and outs of confit for the past few weeks.  Sampling it at restaurants, reading the classic preparations in cookbooks, testing recipes.  You’ll see the article soon.

But you won’t see me eating confit again any time soon.  The thought of more deep-fried meat is making me a little queasy.  Could it be I actually overdid it?!

Even the scallops we ate for dinner tonight, delicious, tender, simple scallops, pan fried with a little ponzu and preserved lemon, seemed too…meaty.  Looks like it’s salads for me in the near future.

No, not that kind of salad…Help!

ode on a fresh turkey

I always brine.  I know just by admitting this, I’m an anachronism in the food world, so yesterday.  Even Cook’s Illustrated doesn’t brine anymore.  But I like the slightly slick juiciness that brining gives to white meat, and it’s never hurt my dark meat.

Plus, it’s one slightly gross, slightly perverse aspect of Thanksgiving that Retrogrouch and I share.  He’s not interested in too many aspects of cooking Thanksgiving.  I tried to make a planning list.  I said, what do we need to do for Thanksgiving?  He looked at me as if I had lost my mind.  “Stuffing.  Mashed potatoes.”  I said yes, of course, but what else?

“All ye know on earth,” he said with solemn finality, “and all ye need to know.”

I frowned and returned to my list.  My happy love piped up:

“Oh, and don’t forget to brine the turkey.”

Each year we try to figure out a slightly less inconvenient way to haul the greasy, bloody carcass into a vessel that will hold it and not smell like revolting raw dead things afterward.  It’s always a chore and an obsession to find, scrub, sterilize, KERPLUNK, brine, scrub, sterilize.  Plus the feeling we’re doing something really wrong.  Not to mention that smell on my hands.

For the record, I do a simple brine: 1.75 cups kosher salt (or 1 cup regular salt, if I have it) to 2 gallons of water.  Keep in cold place like the refrigerator overnight, or for 8-12 hours. No sugar, no herbs, nothing fancy.

A few years ago, I discovered my canning kettle was just the right size and relatively easy to clean.  Plus, I boil it each time I use it.  Handy, no?

Well, the increasing size of our guest list, and corresponding increasing size of our turkey finally hit a crisis point this year, and I can’t find anything for the brining vessel.  The canner was an utter failure, as you can see above.  In fact, I’m so stymied, I’m just sitting here with a mess on the counter and bloodlust in my heart.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…