Most people look forward to eating roast turkey on Thanksgiving. I can't wait for the leftovers. When else during the year can you enjoy turkey stock, turkey soup, turkey hash, and turkey liver pa~te'?
And, in this age of convenience foods such as pressed turkey roll, a turkey sandwich made from freshly sliced breast meat has become an endangered species.
Americans come by their love of turkey naturally. The gobbler is native to Latin America. (Indeed, one country in South America is named for the bird: the Spanish word for turkey is Peru.) Turkey was domesticated thousands of years ago and was a mainstay of the Aztec diet. One Aztec dish featured a spicy stew of turkey, chilies and unsweetened chocolate -- the origin of the classical Mexican dish mole poblano.
Europeans may have come to turkey relatively late in history, but they adopted the bird with gusto. "The turkey is certainly one of the handsomest gifts the New World made to the Old World," observed the French gastronome Brillat-Savarin. "The flesh, especially cold, is excellent, full-flavored, and preferable to that of chicken," wrote Alexander Dumas.
Dumas told of a magistrate from Avignon who exclaimed, "We have just eaten a superb turkey. It was crammed with truffles up to its beak, tender as a fat pullet, plump as an ortolan, fragrant as a thrush. To be sure, we only left the bones."
"How many were you?" asked his intrigued interlocutor.
"Two. The turkey and me!"
This time of year, Americans will be eating turkey with an enthusiasm worthy of Dumas' magistrate. Nearly 60 million birds will give up the ghost to feed us between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The great bird makes a second coming in the following recipes for leftovers.
TURKEY BROTH AND TURKEY NOODLE SOUP (8 servings)
I look forward all year to this turkey noodle soup. It started when I was a kid, and my Aunt Linda and I added drops of ketchup to the surface of the soup to make a smiling face.
FOR THE TURKEY BROTH:
Carcass from a 10- to 12-pound turkey (adjust the quantities up or down if your turkey is larger or smaller)
1 large onion
2 bay leaves
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
10 black peppercorns
2 allspice berries
FOR THE TURKEY NOODLE SOUP:
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound thin egg noodles or thinly slivered cre~pes
1 to 2 cups shredded turkey meat
Remove any pieces of skin or fat from the carcass. Place the bones in a large stock pot. Cut the onion in quarters, leaving the skin on. Pin the bay leaves to 2 of the onion quarters with cloves. Cut the parsnip, carrots and celery into 1 inch pieces. Peel the garlic.
Add the vegetables to the pot. Tie herbs and spices in a piece of cheese cloth or wrap in a piece of foil perforated with a fork. Add the herbs to the pot with cold water to cover the bones. Place the pot over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Skim off the foam that forms on the surface and reduce the heat.
Gently simmer the broth for 2 to 3 hours, skimming from time to time to remove any impurities, adding cold water as necessary to keep the bones submerged. At the end of 3 hours, the broth should have an intense turkey flavor.
Strain the broth into a large bowl, pressing the bones and vegetables with a spoon. Let the stock cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Skim off any fat that remains on the surface. The broth will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator or can be frozen. It is delicious in any recipe that calls for chicken stock.
To make turkey noodle soup, season the stock with salt and pepper. Cook the noodles (al dente) in a separate pot of water. (Cooking the noodles in the broth will make it cloudy.) Add the noodles and shredded turkey to the broth and serve at once.
Per serving: 113 calories, 8 gm protein, 16 gm carbohydrates, 1 gm fat, .2 gm saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 19 mg sodium.
GRAMMIE ETHEL'S CHOPPED TURKEY LIVER PATE (6 servings)
What makes my grandmother's chopped liver so delicate is the high proportion of hard cooked egg to liver. Unless you are using an enormous turkey, you may wish to stretch the pa~te' with chicken liver. Saltine or matzo makes the best cracker for spreading the pa~te'.
1 turkey liver, plus enough chicken liver to make 1/2 pound
1 medium onion
4 hard cooked eggs, shelled
2 to 3 tablespoons turkey fat, chicken fat, or butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Few tablespoons of turkey or chicken broth (optional)
Trim any sinews or blemishes off the livers and blot dry. Finely chop the onion. Finely chop or grate the eggs.
Heat the fat in a small frying pan over high heat. Season the livers with salt and pepper. Cook the livers for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until cooked but still very pink in the center. Transfer the livers to a strainer to drain.
Lower the heat and cook the onion for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft but not brown. Drain the onions in the strainer.
Coarsely chop the liver and onion together. Grammie Ethel uses a hand-cranked meat grinder, but a food processor, run in brief spurts, will work fine. Work in the chopped eggs and salt and pepper to taste. If you like a moister pa~te', add a few tablespoons of turkey or chicken broth. Let the pa~te' cool to room temperature (if you have the patience -- in my family none of us does). Serve turkey liver pa~te' spread on crackers.
Per serving: 149 calories, 13 gm protein, 3 gm carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 4 gm saturated fat, 408 mg cholesterol, 103 mg sodium.
ITALIAN TURKEY CLUB SANDWICH (2 servings)
Here's an Italian twist on an American classic, though these days the club sandwich is all too likely to be made with bland hot-house tomatoes, bacon left over from breakfast and pressed turkey roll, the latter being the poultry equivalent of Spam. If you don't make this sandwich with real turkey, it isn't worth making at all.
FOR THE BASIL MAYONNAISE:
20 fresh basil leaves
Salt, to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
FOR THE SANDWICH:
6 ounces cooked turkey breast
1/4 pound thinly slice pancettaSTART NOTE: END NOTE (Italian bacon)
1 ripe tomato
1 bunch arugula
1/3 cup basil mayonnaise
3 thick slices of country-style white bread or brioche
To make the mayonnaise: Blanch basil leaves in rapidly boiling salted water for 10 seconds. Refresh under cold water and drain. Place basil and mayonnaise in a blender and pure'e until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula as necessary. Set aside.
Thinly slice the turkey across the grain. Lightly brown the pancetta on both sides in a nonstick frying pan. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel to drain. Thinly slice the tomato. Wash, dry, and stem the arugula. Toast the bread.
Just before serving, spread one bread slice with basil mayonnaise. Place half the turkey, pancetta, arugula and tomato on top. Spread basil mayonnaise on both sides of the second bread slice and place it on top. Arrange the remaining turkey, pancetta, arugula, and tomato on top. Spread the last bread slice with basil mayonnaise and place it, mayonnaise side down, on top. Cut the sandwich on the diagonal into quarters. Secure with toothpicks and serve.
Per serving: 830 calories, 49 gm protein, 25 gm carbohydrates, 60 gm fat, 15 gm saturated fat, 140 mg cholesterol, 1370 mg sodium.
TURKEY HASH (4 servings)
Hash was invented as a way to use up leftovers. (Our word comes from the French hacher -- to chop.) Today, it turns up at some of the nation's most fashionable tables. Good hash is like an impressionist painting: a union of individual flavors into a bright, harmonious whole.
1 1/2 cups roast turkey
2 large baking potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 to 3 shallots, minced
Approximately 1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, including parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Oil or butter for frying (optional)
4 fresh, extra large eggs (optional)
Cut the turkey into cubes just shy of a half inch in length. Cut the potatoes the same way. Place the potatoes in water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the cubes are almost tender. Drain.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers, celery and shallots, and cook for 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the potatoes, turkey, stock, flavorings and seasonings, and increase the heat to high. Cook the hash, stirring from time to time, until most of the stock has evaporated. Correct the seasoning, adding salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce to taste.
Just before serving, heat the oil or butter in another skillet and fry the eggs (or poach them). Spoon the hash onto warm plates, topping each serving with a fried egg. There are lots of possibilities for beverages here: mimosas, Bloody Marys, stout, ale, or even strong black coffee.
Per serving: 260 calories, 19 gm protein, 18 gm carbohydrates, 12 gm fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 37 mg cholesterol, 293 mg sodium.
Steven Raichlen is a Miami-based national food writer.