It’s the middle of the week after Christmas. You have a ton of leftover Turkey lurking in your fridge, freezer or garage (assuming you live in the Northern Temperate Zone, where Winter actually comes in Winter). What do you do with it?
I always make my Easiest Ever Turkey Stew, also known around our house as “Turkey Encore Supreme”.
The secret is to cook your Turkey covered for at least three quarters of its roasting time. If you put a litre of water, Poultry Stock, Fruit Juice, White Wine or other complementary liquid (or a mixture of the aforementioned – experiment!) in the bottom of the roasting pan at the outset, along with a fairly solid layer of 1 in. chunks of Carrot, Celery and Onion, a few Peppercorns and some Bay Leaves, you’ll have at least two (maybe three) litres of rich, savoury Turkey Stock by the time the bird reaches 170 F. The veggies will contribute flavour and moisture as they roast.
Pour off up to half a litre of the fresh Stock, through a fine wire mesh sieve, into a sauce pan and add a Roux made of one quarter cup Flour and one quarter cup Butter or Oil to produce your Gravy for the Feast Day meal.
Place the rest of the Turkey Juices, vegetables and all, in a large container and store covered in a cold place (ideally, the fridge; under 40 F, at any rate) until you and your loved ones have recovered from their Christmas Day Tryptophan* overdose.
When the pan juices have been cooled for a day or two, (or three,) the fat will come to the top and coagulate, and the lovely rich stock will rest in the bottom, in a glorious gelatinous mass you’ll have to spoon out into your stew pot in wiggly-jiggly chunks…
First, skim off the congealed fat with a big spoon and place into the bottom of your stew pot. Bring it to medium high heat and add a third cup of APF (All Purpose Flour), stirring until you get a nice medium brown colour, a creamy texture and beautifully bloomed flour particles which are ready to suck up moisture and thicken the stew. Now, add the gelled Turkey Stock, removing the whole Cloves, Bay Leaves and other whole Spices and Herbs you may have added to the roasting pan.
Stir frequently as the Stew thickens. The jelly will melt into a glorious stock again and the Roux you just made from the Turkey Fat and Flour will thicken it beautifully. I usually add a teaspoon of ground or freshly grated Nutmeg and some more Salt and Pepper (to taste) to round out the flavour profile. You can add whatever you fancy!
Cut up some of the leg, wing and breast meat left over from the Main Event Feast into one-inch pieces and add to the Stew pot. The longer it stews, the more tender and tasty it gets. I let mine go at least half an hour…
Serve over fluffy Rice, in a bowl, like pasta. Or over Egg Noodles, like Goulash. Or over boiled New Potatoes. Whatever. You’ll love it! And it almost cooks itself.
~ Maggie J.
* Tryptophan: Wikipedia defines it as, “…one of the 22 standard amino acids, as well as an essential amino acid in the human diet.” Wikipedia – repository of all Net-ly knowledge – also says that there is no technically demonstrable link between Tryptophan and post-Turkey-drowsiness. I prefer the more romantic theory that you can’t truly enjoy a Turkey Feast without getting a big hit of Tryptophan and, inevitably, entering a state of trance-like postprandial bliss… It’s either that or American College Football. ~ M.J.