"Then I'll take a 20-pounder," we answer. We intend to have a lot to give thanks for: days of leftover turkey.
Turkey is, after all, the blank canvas of the meat world. It passively accepts whatever seasoning, sauce or garnish we want to inflict on it, and only improves for it. Surely Al Capp had turkey in mind when he invented the shmoo. It can be diced, sliced or pure'ed without a struggle. Even its color, so neutral, enhances and is enhanced by any hue the organic world can devise, from the green of broccoli to the chocolate brown of mole' sauce. Cooked turkey is always ready -- ready to be reheated or ready to be eaten cold. It has no fat to congeal. It pulls easily off the bones. It soothes the queasiest post-feast stomach and satisfies a holiday-activated hunger.
Leftover turkey is reason enough for Thanksgiving.
It does, however, reward us all the more for a little care and attention. If we take care to roast our birds just until done rather than letting the meat dry from overcooking, the leftovers will disprove any family resemblance to sawdust. Wrap the leftovers well to forestall any further drying or prevent the slightest dissipation of flavor in the refrigerator. This usually means removing the meat from the bones (presumably you have already removed and refrigerated separately the stuffing, to prevent spoilage). And in doing so, leave the meat in large pieces, slicing or dicing only at the last moment. Finally, take care to reheat rather than recook the meat, lest all that care in the original roasting go for naught.
Turkey soup is a principle rather than a recipe. The point is to utilize every last bit of meat and flavor by simmering the bones, scraps and even meat juices in water to cover, which means that the bones should be broken up in a deep pot so that not too much water is needed to cover them. Then add what you like: salt, peppercorns, herbs, fresh vegetables such as onions (raw or saute'ed), carrots, celery, leeks. Some like a pure broth with minimal seasoning; others like it "dirty", which is the French term for putting in everything but the kitchen sink. That can include potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, leftover stuffing, nearly everything left from Thanksgiving dinner short of dessert. Simmer it all for an hour or so, skimming any scum that forms at the beginning. If you like your vegetables crisp, discard the bones and seasoning vegetables, then add fresh vegetables towards the end; otherwise, you can remove the bones, then dice the vegetables and return them to the pot or pure'e them with some of the soup and return all to the pot. Serve as-is or with a little cream, milk and/or butter stirred in at the end.
SHEZAN'S CLUB SANDWICH (1 serving)
The real reason for roasting a turkey, many would argue, is to have it for sandwiches. And truly a turkey sandwich needs nothing more than good bread, mayonnaise (preferably homemade) and a leaf of lettuce. But by the fifth day one might look into variations; and Shezan restaurant's club sandwich is as original as a turkey sandwich can get.
2 slices toasted whole wheat honey bread Mayonnaise Butter Mustard A few slices of turkey 1 or two slices of corned beef or spiced beef 1 slice tomato Lettuce Thinly sliced pickles Thin omelet made with 1 egg, finely chopped onion, parsley, salt and pepper
Spread 1 slice of toast with mayonnaise and the other with butter and a bit of mustard. In a hot skillet with a thin film of butter, quickly grill the turkey, corned beef and tomato. Pile turkey and corned beef on toast, add a layer of lettuce and pickles, then the grilled tomato. Top with the omelet and cover with the second slice of toast. Secure with toothpicks, put into a hot oven for a few minutes to heat slightly, then cut diagonally and serve with tossed salad and "crisp potato wafers" (potato chips).
MARGUERITE POULIOT'S CREAMED TURKEY (2 servings)
When French-born Marguerite Pouliot came to this country, she was already familiar with turkey, but more likely to use it as a confit in cassoulet rather than with the Thanksgiving trimmings. Now she often incorporates a French accent in her holiday dinner by injecting port into the flesh of the turkey with a hypodermic before roasting it, sometimes stuffing it with semolina, saffron and chestnuts. For her husband, Leonard Pouliot, creamed turkey is his favorite use of the bird; as he put it, "Her turkey tastes as if it were prepared for that dish." 2 to 3 tablespoons butter 2 heaping tablespoons flour 2 cups milk 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion Salt and white pepper to taste 2 to 3 cups diced turkey 1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced and saute'ed, or canned mushrooms (optional) Buttered toast for serving
Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in flour and let cook, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes, without letting it brown. Gradually stir in milk, add onion, and stir until sauce thickens and boils. Season with salt and white pepper, stir in turkey and optional mushrooms. Let simmer for 10 minutes over very low heat. Serve on buttered toast, with a green salad.
JUDITH HUXLEY'S TURKEY PIE (8 servings) 1 stick butter, divided in half 3 pounds leftover cooked turkey meat, both white and dark, cut into a 1-inch dice or smaller if necessary 1 can water chestnuts, rinsed under cold water, drained and sliced thin 2 large carrots, sliced thin 1/2 pound small mushrooms, cleaned and halved 1/2 pound tiny frozen white onions 2 teaspoons dried thyme Salt and pepper to taste 6 tablespoons flour 3 cups chicken broth 1/2 cup medium-sweet madeira wine 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/4 cup dry vermouth 1 pound puff pastry, defrosted if frozen, and chilled 1 egg 1 tablespoon milk Melt half of the butter in a large saute' pan, add the turkey meat, water chestnuts, carrots, mushrooms, onions, thyme, salt and pepper and saute' for 5 minutes.
Melt the remaining butter in a large saucepan, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the chicken broth and the three wines. Return to heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the turkey-vegetable mixture to the sauce, adjust seasoning and turn into a 10-inch deep casserole of ovenproof glass or a 12-inch oval pie dish.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board, into a 1/4-inch-thick circle or oval about 1 1/2 inches larger than the pie dish. Cut a 1-inch strip off the pastry, around the diameter, wet the rim of the dish and press the strip down on it. Then lift the pastry onto the dish. Moisten the strip and the underside edge of the pastry and press the edges together. Knead the scraps once or twice, roll them out and cut decorations for the top of the pastry. Cut a circle from the center of the pastry, butter the outside of the nozzle of a pastry bag tube and insert it in the hole, broad side up, to act as a funnel. Beat the egg and milk and with a pastry brush paint the top of the pastry. Place the decorations on the pastry and paint these with the glaze. Stretch another piece of excess dough into a string the diameter of a fat spaghetti, twist it and place it on the pastry around the edge of the hole and the funnel. Paint the twist of dough with the glaze. Bake at 400 degrees for about 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is brown. Should the crust get too dark too quickly, cover it with foil.
Before serving, cut the crust into 8 portions with a sharp pair of kitchen shears. This can be done while the crust sits on the pie. Serve with reheated leftover stuffing.
SESAME TURKEY (6 servings) 2 pounds, approximately, cooked turkey, julienned Dressing: 2 slices ginger, about 2 teaspoons, minced 1 scallion, minced 2/3 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup dry sherry or rice wine 1/4 cup sesame oil 1 teaspoon pepper 2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon vinegar For serving: Shredded raw vegetables such as lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, celery
Combine dressing ingredients and toss with turkey. Arrange, if desired, on a bed of shredded vegetables and serve.
ALAN MADIAN'S TURKEY OMELET (2 servings) 4 tablespoons butter 6 to 8 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths 1/2 to 3/4 cup turkey, with some skin left on, cut into large chunks 1/4 clove garlic, minced Salt to taste 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms (optional) 4 eggs Pepper to taste 2 heaping tablespoons sour cream (optional)
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and saute' scallions until translucent and just beginning to brown. Add turkey, garlic and optional mushrooms, and saute' until turkey begins to brown. Add salt to taste and set aside. Beat eggs with pepper to taste. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in an omelet pan and cook eggs until just beginning to set. Spread turkey mixture over omelet, top with sour cream, fold omelet and serve.
TURKEY DIVAN (6 servings) 2 pounds, approximately, sliced cooked turkey 1 bunch broccoli, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces, and cooked until tender-crisp 4 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup grated parmesan 1 1/2 cups cream sauce (see below) Hollandaise sauce (optional, see below)
Slice turkey and let come to room temperature while preparing other ingredients. Cook broccoli, then spread in baking dish just deep enough to hold all the ingredients. Dot broccoli with half the butter and half the parmesan. Cover with a layer of turkey. Cover with cream sauce or combination of cream and hollandaise sauces (see note). Dot with remaining half of butter, sprinkle with remaining cheese and broil, at least an inch from the flame, until cheese is browned.
Note: Cream sauce and hollandaise can be prepared ahead, but must be warmed and combined at the last minute. If no hollandaise is used, the entire dish with the cream sauce can be prepared ahead and reheated at 350 degrees until bubbling, then browned under the broiler. When just cream sauce is used, you may want to use more than 1 1/2 cups to make a creamier casserole. If hollandaise is used, pour it slowly into the cream sauce, then pour over turkey.
CREAM SAUCE 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup chicken broth 1 tablespoon butter 1 scant tablespoon arrowroot 1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat together in a saucepan the milk, chicken broth and butter. When the butter has melted, combine the arrowroot with the cream and stir into the milk mixture. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two until thick.
HOLLANDAISE 1 stick softened butter 2 egg yolks 1 tablespoon lemon juice Dash of white pepper
Divide butter into three parts and set aside. Put egg yolks, lemon juice and pepper in top of double boiler and set aside until they are room temperature -- about 1/2 hour. Bring water to a simmer in bottom of double boiler and lower heat. Put top of double boiler over bottom, being sure the top does not touch the water. Stir egg mixture well with a wooden spoon, then add butter piece by piece, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until slightly thickened but don't let it get too hot, or it will curdle.
HELEN WORTH'S STUFFED TURKEY
This is a recipe that I could never test, since the first thing consumed at my house is the turkey skin. But Helen Worth seems always to have the skin left intact (next year I'll accept her Thanksgiving invitation). So she bones the leftover turkey, combines it with the stuffing in a baking dish and covers it with leftover skin -- even small bits can be jigsawed together. She bakes it at 350 to 450 degrees until the meat is heated through and the skin crisped.