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Thursday, December 25, 2008

What To Do With….. Turkey Leftovers



We just spent this past weekend with my husband’s parents in Montreal to celebrate an early Christmas. (We are spending Christmas day in Toronto with my brother and parents.) Our trips to Montreal are characterized by massive amounts of delicious, full flavour foods and quiet relaxation on the West Island. This trip was no exception. While it was blistery cold outside, we indulged in fabulous meal after glorious meal of French-Canadian delights as well as some of my mother-in-law’s other tried and true Christmas time dishes. In between our noshing and nibbling marathon, we did a little sight seeing in la belle province. For this wintery visit, we drove down to Quebec’s Eastern Townships to enjoy an afternoon of sight-seeing, exploring and antiquing.

The Eastern Townships are located south-east of Montreal nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians near the border of the north-eastern U.S. states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Its settlement by English Loyalists over two centuries ago has left an indelible mark on the Townships where English is widely spoken and expressed through the region’s architecture. Still the Townships are very much a part of Quebec. Driving through south-eastern Quebec is like driving through a picture on a postcard as fir trees, their boughs heavy with pristine white snow, line undulating country roads guiding drivers through the Townships’ villages, ski hills and cottages. We drive past communities whose populations ebb and flow with the seasons, swelling in the summer with the arrival of cottagers and tourists and contracting when the days grow shorter. In the winter, the population swells again when the snow lures skiers to the Townships’ powdery hills. On the day of our visit to the town of Knowlton, near Lac Brome, the community seemed serene and quiet, with only a handful of locals and the occasional tourist peeking into shops and visiting the antique dealers.

Daylight was limited and we decided to have a quick lunch in order to catch another tourist stop before the sun quit for the day. We popped into a Quebec hamburger franchise, Valentine. As I walked through the door, it was like stepping in a time machine to an eighties fast food restaurant. The tiny restaurant was brightly lit in its canary yellow and cherry red furniture. Christmas garland and ornaments hung along the walls and a large Christmas tree tucked into the corner by the window.

I ordered the Valentine burger which was about the size as a McDonald’s hamburger but significantly meatier and loaded with fresh toppings. It was such a memorable little place, not because the food per se, but it seemed like the restaurant, its patrons and employees had been frozen in time. It was a time where fast food restaurant served hot coffee in mugs and employees gladly came around with free refills. It was a time where big burly grey-haired grandfathers took their young grandsons for a cheeky afternoon meal which would surely spoil supper that evening. We don’t see that anymore in our world of conglomerate fast food restaurants where everything is rehydrated, frozen and pre-made.


My nostalgia set me up for our next stop along our whirlwind tour of the Townships was the Notre-Dame de Stanbridge covered bridge. The first covered bridge built in 1848, it has since been replaced but it stands as a reminder of a time gone by. Now the bridge sits out on a lonely road with a cattle farm on one side and abandoned dining room and motel on the other. The light was fleeting and the temperature had dropped significantly at this point. We stopped for a couple of quick photos before hopping back to the warmth of our car.

The highlight of our weekend was our Christmas dinner where we celebrated the holiday with a twelve pound grain-fed turkey. As I have mentioned previously, roasted turkey is probably one of my favourite meals, mainly because I love the rituals surrounding the meal – the gathering and celebration of family. Of course, a turkey feast for four, means plenty of leftovers and there are only so many turkey sandwiches you can eat before growing tired of the bird.

Happy holidays to MKF readers. May your holidays be filled with joy, happiness with friends and family and an abundance of great food.

What To Do With... Leftover Turkey


When I was growing up, my mom would make fried rice and noodle soup with our leftovers, those are still some of my favourite ways to use roasted turkey.

1. Turkey noodle soup – this is great for the bits of turkey that lurk around the bones (wings, and legs), long after the white breast meat is gone. (Use the bones to enrich the soup, but you may need additional help, so I often use chicken stock as well.)

2. Turkey Rillettes – shred meat finely (about a cup or so) and slowly simmer with a half cup of white wine, a garlic clove minced, 2 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste (you may also want to add some of the spices you used when roasting the turkey. I like to use celery seeds, a dash of smoked paprika, and thyme.) When most of the liquid has been absorbed, pack into ramekins, cool and refrigerate before serving.

3. Mango turkey salad over glass noodles – Serve this layered salad of 2 c of shredded turkey for chicken, 2 c of diced mangoes, handful of beanspouts, chopped cilantro over fine slippery glass noodles. Make a vinaigrette from the juice of 1 lime, 1/4c light soy sauce, 1 tsp of sambal olek, 2 tbsp of nam pla (fish sauce) and 2 tbsp of sesame oil. Pour over top and garnish with toasted peanuts or cashews.

4. Breakfast Frittata – 6 eggs, half a red bell pepper diced, ½ large onion diced, 1 cup of diced or shredded turkey, ½ mozzarella or cheddar cheese – heat pan over medium heat and sauté bell pepper and onion in butter until softened. Crack eggs, add salt and pepper and spices and beat in a large bowl. Once the vegetables are cooked, pour eggs over top. Quickly give the eggs and vegetables a stir to move around the egg mixture slightly. (Take care here because you’re not making scrambled eggs which is equally as nice but not the intent.) Sprinkle the turkey over top, then the cheese. Allow the eggs to continue to set. Meanwhile, set your oven’s broiler to medium/high. After about five minutes or so when the eggs have mostly cooked through, place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden.

5. Turkey congee – a very Chinese way to use a turkey bones. Cover bones in a pot of water and simmer for about an hour or two. Remove scum as required, and do not boil. Discard the bones (making sure you’ve strained out the tiny bits that sometimes break away from the main body.) Add about 4 cups of chicken stock to the pot, 1 c of rinsed white rice, and simmer for another hour or so. Rice should dissolve into a creamy consistency. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Garnish with finely chopped green onions, grated ginger with soy sauce and lashings of toasted sesame oil. (The liquid to rice ratio should be about 8c-10c of stock to 1 c of white rice.)

6. Turkey Quesadilla – on one half of a soft tortilla, add shredded cheddar, shredded turkey, diced tomatoes, and a handful of chopped cilantro. Fold in half and grill under a pannini maker until the outside is crispy and toasted and the filling has warmed through.

7. Turkey Waldorf Salad – if you have fairly large amounts of turkey left over, this is probably one of the first recipes you should think of. Traditionally, Waldorf is made with chicken but around our house, one side of the turkey breast is enjoyed at dinner and a full half is left behind. This is a great way to use turkey. Mix 1 cup of cubed turkey with 1 c of diced apple, 1/2c celery crescents, and 1/4c Thompson raisins with about 1/2c of mayonnaise (or 1/4 c of mayonnaise and light sour cream each.) Serve over Boston lettuce.

8. Turkey pot pie

9. Fried rice with turkey

10. Turkey stews of all kinds: chilis, stews, cacciatores, and turkey a la king.

4 comments:

cakeitaly said...

Wow fantastic ideas for my next lunch with my friends.

Bye from Italy by
Cakeitaly.com - A taste of Italian sweets

foodbin said...

nice blog

Laura Kelley said...

All of the recipes read wonderfully - but theturkey congee isfor me! I'm going to give it a try!

Hungry Gal said...

@ foodbin

Thanks for commenting. I stopped by your blog and I certainly love my travel through Malaysia (backpacked through there in my younger years. really enjoyed the food!!)

@ Laura Kelley

I love congee. It's the ultimate comfort food for me.

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