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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Turkey Troubles

I love a bit of roast turkey at Christmas time. We get it from our local butcher, from a known farm where the animals are treated well, and I think the flavour of a 'happy turkey' really does come through.

However despite asking for a turkey that would serve 3-4 people, I still ended up with quite a large turkey - maybe our appetites in this country have grown too much because mum and I both recollected that turkeys never used to be so big, even the organic ones. Anyway. Like many families in the UK and no doubt any Western country, we have the age-old problem: What to Do with the Leftovers.

Turkey Troubles. Pic credit:
Apart from the ubiquitous turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day, how can one maximise the use of all the meat on the turkey without any waste?

Generally I clean the whole of the turkey, cutting the flesh and putting it into a tub to freeze for a later date. I then get the bones, skin, remaining jelly/fats from inside the roasting pan, breaking some of the bones to get to the marrow, and then boil this up in a large pot to create some delicious stock - either to freeze or to use as the base of a soup.

However, even with this tub full of turkey and the pots of stock inside the freezer, I still have a lot of meat leftover. Here are some of my top five easy recipes guaranteed to whet the appetite; also with turkey being a lean meat, and veg being good for you, these are relatively healthy.

1) Turkey broth 
This is a great way of using up leftover veg, turkey etc on Boxing Day, to accompany the sandwiches.
In my broth, I used the following leftovers:
Roast parsnips (chopped up)
Roast carrots (chopped up)
2 pigs in blankets (chopped up)
Some turkey (small pieces)
All the leftover gravy
Leftover sprouts and chestnuts (chopped finely)
Some of the fat and 'jelly' from the Turkey roasting tin
Some cabbage.
Basically, everything except for the roast potatoes (which were all eaten), the stuffing (which went into the sandwiches) and the Yorkshire puddings.

As everything has already been cooked, the broth only needs to be boiled up once and then left to simmer for 5 minutes (while the sandwiches are prepared).

2) Turkey Tagine
This is not strictly a tagine as I don't own the earthenware pot from whence the dish gets its name. But I couldn't think of anything else to describe the dish - 'Turkey in a pot with cous cous' doesn't have the same kind of ring.

Chopped up carrot
1 chopped onion
1 courgette
Turkey pieces (chopped)
4 tablespoons of Turkey jelly/fat from the roasting pan
1 cup of water
1 cup of cous cous
Seasoning to taste.

Put the chopped onion, carrot and courgette into a hot, deep pan with some olive oil, stirring continuously. Add the turkey and the turkey stock/jelly from the roasting pan. Stir until the vegetables start to soften and brown.
Add the cous-cous, seasoning and water, and stir
Put a lid on and slow-simmer it for about 5-10 minutes or until the cous cous has expanded and there is no more water in the pan.

3) Turkey shepherds pie
This is another great way of using up Christmas leftovers
Chop up remaining veg, some turkey and some of the turkey stock/jelly from inside the roasting pan and stuff into the bottom of a deep dish. Pour on a little gravy - not too much.
Add some mashed potato to cover the lot, and bake for 20 minutes or so until the top of the potato is brown.

4) Turkey omelette
Fancy brunch? Break 3 eggs, beat them in a bowl with some seasoning - salt, pepper, dried oregano or sage, put into a frying pan. Tear up some turkey and spread over the top of the omelette base. For additional punch, add some of the cooked bacon from the turkey. Grate cheese if you wish. Gently fold in half and cook for a few minutes on one side until golden brown, then flip to the other side and repeat.

5) Turkey pie
There is usually a lot of pastry left over from the mince pies/cheese straws/strudels that are baked up before Christmas.

Take the pastry and roll out to cover the base of a pre-greased pastry dish. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or so with some ceramic baking beads so it remains flat after being cooked.

Take some turkey, chopped up veg and some of the leftover jelly from the roasting tin. Fill the pastry base with plenty of filling. Roll another thin crust and put the pie back into the oven and bake it for 20 minutes or so, until the top is glazed and brown. Best served hot - but can be cooled and frozen!

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