Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Turkey Mash

The last few days have been a race against time to get a houseful of leftovers into a form that can be easily eaten or easily stored away in the freezer.

In case you haven't noticed, we hate to waste food.

At the top of the list has been the remains of that 31-pound pastured turkey we cooked for Thanksgiving. A goodly portion of it went into the freezer last month, but I removed it to make room for all the soups I've been making lately. So there I had a freezer bag full of breast meat, and in the crisper drawer a second bag full of cooked fingerling potatoes.

Hence, turkey a la king over mashed potatoes--leftovers squared.

The way I make a big batch of turkey a la king is thus: In a large cast-iron skillet, saute about four cups sliced cremini mushrooms. They'll need plenty of extra-virgin olive oil and about a teaspoon of salt for seasoning. When those are done, saute a yellow onion cut into medium dice. Again, season with salt to draw the juices out and cook until the onions are just soft, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, put four tablespoons butter in a heavy pot to melt over moderate heat, then add four tablespoons flour, stir to make a roux and cook about five minutes. Do not brown. Since I had so much turkey stock made already, I heated three cups of that and when the roux was ready began pouring the stock into the roux--about a cup at a time--bringing it to a boil to thicken. When the stock has been incorporated and thickened, add about 1/2 cup heavy cream. The sauce should easily coat a spoon, not too thick. Season with salt and white pepper.

(For a richer sauce, you can also add an egg yolk. First temper the yolk with some of the sauce (stirring a few spoonfuls of hot sauce with the yolk in a small bowl), then add the yolk and cook another minute or two.)

Cut the turkey meat into bite-size pieces and add that plus the sauteed mushrooms and onions to the sauce. Add 1 cup frozen peas and for a final flourish, stir in 1 tablespoon Madeira or Marsala wine.

Traditionally, turkey a la king is served over puff pastry. But we aren't so fussy. Leftover potatoes seem like a perfect match to me. They can be reheated in the microwave and mashed roughly right on the plate. Or perhaps you already have some mashed potatoes poised for some action in the fridge. Simply ladle the finished turkey a la king over the potatoes, garnish with some chopped parsley and serve hot.

To me, this seems like a perfectly fine way to heat up the kitchen on a cold winter's night.


Kim said...

This sounds great! It'll be just the thing for that leftover hunk of frozen turkey I have waiting for me!

Kevin said...

If you haven't made lentil soup from a turkey carcass before, be sure to try it. Turkey and lentils are made for each other:

I Heart Kale said...

Fantastic timing, I have a fridge full of leftover turkey from Christmas and a freezer full of leftover turkey stock from Thanskgiving !

Ed Bruske said...

Kim, I've had great luck freezing/defrosting turkey for soups, sandwiches--all sorts of things. I haven't detected any ill effects to the turkey.

Kevin, you must be reading my mind. It's been too long between lentil dishes. Thanks for the link.

Hannah (or is it Phoebe?), I cleaned out the freezer the other day to make way for soups and could hardly believe how much turkey stock is left. Just goes to show what a big carcass can do for the pantry...