2009-11-22

Thanksgiving tip + recipe for leftovers

As I was finalizing my Thanksgiving grocery list I thought I would share a juicy turkey tip: For about ten years, I've been roasting my turkeys, breast side down for the first hour to hour and a half. Then I flip it over until the turkey is done to brown the breasts. It's kinda' tricky to flip the bird (well, maybe not for some people, it seems to come rather easy to some), but if you have a pair of silicone oven mitts or one mitt and a heavy duty set of tongs it's not too difficult. Cooking the turkey "upside down" Always makes for a nice juicy turkey. The breasts are never dry. Sometimes I brine the turkey prior to roasting and that makes for a tasty turkey as well. However, if you buy a turkey that has already been injected (most found in the grocery store are) then don't bother with the brine or you'll end up with really salty turkey, blech. I prefer to not add stuffing to the turkey (I know that's a sin to some of you). Instead, I stuff a couple of celery ribs, carrots, a quartered onion, fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme sprigs and crushed garlic cloves into the cavity. Then I slice several garlic cloves and place the slices under the skin all around the bird, brush it with melted butter and season it with salt and pepper. I do baste it every 30-60 minutes with chicken broth and dry white wine

Save your turkey carcass and make homemade turkey stock. Or, better yet, make homemade turkey noodle soup. Yum!

For the soup:
If possible, save half of the drippings from the roasted turkey for the turkey stock. I even use the leftover gravy as well. Don't worry about picking the bird clean when you carve it, that just means more meat to flavor your stock. This might sound gross, but the skin from the roasted bird also adds GREAT flavor to the stock. You just skim all the yucky stuff from the stock as is bubbles in the pot. Everything will be removed from the stock before you actually make the soup. Also, make sure you have a pot large enough to hold the bird carcass (sounds really bad) with enough water to cover it entirely.
Ingredients
1 Whole chicken (4-5 lbs) or 4-5 lbs. chicken parts or one turkey carcass
5-6 carrots
4-5 celery stalks (one or two with lots of leaves)
1 large onion, quartered
3 Tbsp. butter
2 large leeks, split in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced into half-moons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken/turkey in large pot. Add just enough water to cover the chicken. Place on burner over medium-high heat and bring to a boil (make sure chicken doesn't stick to the bottom of your pot). Boil for 30 minutes, while skimming the impurities from the top. Reduce heat to medium and add two whole carrots, one or two whole celery stalks with leaves, the quartered onion, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken/turkey to a platter and allow it to cool. Strain the vegetables from chicken stock, making sure to save every last drop of stock in another pot or bowl. This stock will be the base for your soup and can be used in any recipe calling for chicken stock.
After chicken has cooled, remove remaining turkey/chicken from the bone and shred or dice it. Take care to feel for any tiny bones or cartilage and discard them. Place pot on stove with the strained stock and turn on heat to medium. Add chicken/turkey to the stock (you may or may not want to add all of the chicken. I like to reserve about 1 cup of shredded chicken to make chicken salad). While stock is reheating, Dice remaining celery (2 stalks) and carrots (2-3). In a large skillet, melt butter. Add diced veggies and sliced leeks to skillet. When leeks are slightly translucent and fragrant, add minced garlic. Sauté for 1 minute longer, then add veggies to stock. Allow stock/soup to simmer for at least 2 hours before adding noodles (recipe to follow). The noodles cook quickly (3-4 minutes), so wait until you are ready to serve before adding the noodles.

GRANDMA'S HOMEMADE EGG NOODLES

2 ½ cups flour

3-4 pinches salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 Tbsp. butter, melted

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the beaten egg, milk, and butter. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired lengths and shapes. Allow to air dry about 30min. to one hour before cooking. To cook fresh pasta, drop in a large pot with boiling water (salted) or stock, making sure to separate noodles. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until desired tenderness. If pasta is not going to be cooked right away, it may be refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months. If cooking with frozen pasta, it is not necessary to thaw the pasta, just cook for 6-8 minutes instead of the 3-4 minutes for thawed.


Oh, one more thing about roasting turkeys, don't listen to that baloney about cooking your bird to an internal temp of 185°F, that's overcooked. All you need is 165°F (even the USDA says so).

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