Don't Sleep On Those Turkey Leftovers | Food Feature | Indy Week
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Don't Sleep On Those Turkey Leftovers 

The go-to rule for buying turkey is: one pound per person. But this forgets the most important part, right? The leftovers. If there aren't at least a couple of pounds of extra meat post holiday, you're doing it wrong. Thanksgiving is all about excess.

That way, you can have your kitchen-sink sandwich—you know, with the gravy-soaked bread slices—the next morning. Then you can freeze the rest, forget about it until the summer, find a weird, ice-crusty plastic bag beneath your expired pint of Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz!, ask your partner, "What was this?" And he says, "Huh? Don't know!" And you throw it in the trash.

Wait. Scratch that.

This year, skip the freezer and enjoy your beloved big bird in its prime. These four recipes will show you how. The sloppy joe and ssäm are flexible—good for any amount of turkey you have. The other two recipes use a larger amount, which gets stretched into reviving, cozy soups.




ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE OLIVA
  • Illustration by Steve Oliva

Northern NJ-Style Sloppy Joe

Where I'm from in northern New Jersey (a commuter town just a train-ride away from New York City), we have our own definition of "sloppy joe." To me, it's a triple-decker, rye bread sandwich with cold cuts and cheese, cabbage slaw, and Russian dressing. Like a Reuben or Rachel, except the cabbage isn't fermented and the sandwich isn't warm. This version uses thick, leftover carved turkey. Accordingly, I dropped the bread count from three to two slices. I also don't believe in making small amounts of Russian dressing (why would you?). So use any extra for anything, especially chopped salads.

Handful shredded green cabbage

Kosher salt, to taste

1 cup mayonnaise

6 tablespoons minced pickles

1/4 cup ketchup

Cayenne pepper, to taste

2 slices rye bread (New York deli-style, not Nordic)

Roast turkey, sliced

Swiss cheese, sliced

Generously season the cabbage with salt. Give it a little massage, then leave it to relax while you make the Russian dressing. Mix together the mayo, ketchup, and pickles. Season with salt and cayenne to taste. Now, there's nothing more offensive than a recipe telling you how to make a sandwich—and I wouldn't dare. Pile on as much turkey and cheese as you please! Just assemble in this order: bread, smear of Russian dressing, turkey, Swiss, salted cabbage, a lot of Russian dressing, bread. Serve with a kosher pickle spear to keep it traditional.




ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE OLIVA
  • Illustration by Steve Oliva

Turkey Ssäm with Kimchi Mayo

Ssäm is Korean for "wrapped"—so think Korean lettuce wraps. I first learned about these while working as a line cook at Kimbap, a Korean-inspired, locally focused restaurant in Raleigh. Kimbap's version adapted tradition. Mine adapts it even further with roast turkey, brown rice, and an un-shy amount of kimchi mayo, all bundled in a radicchio leaf. Buttery Bibb lettuce is more common, but I really like the bitterness that chicory contributes here.

1 cup mayo

1/3 cup finely chopped kimchi

Roast turkey, pulled like pork

Whole radicchio leaves

Cooked short-grain brown rice

This is one of those recipes that's as fitting for one person as it is for a group. First, mix together the mayo and kimchi. If you have any left over, it will come in handy on all sorts of occasions, such as: BLTs, burgers, even—dare I say it—pimento cheese. Set the table with a dish of kimchi mayo, plate of turkey, plate of radicchio leaves, and pot of rice. Let everyone assemble for themselves.




ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE OLIVA
  • Illustration by Steve Oliva

Turkey and Matzo Ball Soup

Whenever my mom made chicken and matzo ball soup when I was a kid, it was an all-burner affair. Chicken broth here. Matzo balls there. Egg noodles way over there. For us, this was special-occasion food, on the order of a Jewish holiday or the first day of school. This version is streamlined for weeknights when you need something soothing, fast. The miso would made my grandmother weep (sorry, Grandma) but it significantly bolsters the store-bought broth. Make sure you buy white, which is relatively mellow and won't discolor the light soup.

Yield: about 3 quarts

For the matzo balls:

1 cup matzo meal

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup chopped dill

4 large eggs, beaten with a fork

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup seltzer

For the soup:

Matzo meal

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 parsnips, sliced on a bias

2 carrots, sliced on a bias

3 leeks, chopped

12 ounces roast turkey, chopped

Few sprigs dill

2 quarts chicken broth

3 tablespoons white miso

Make the matzo balls. Combine the matzo meal, salt, black pepper, ginger, baking powder, and dill in a bowl. Stir to combine. Add the eggs, olive oil, and seltzer. Stir until smooth. Chill the mixture for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, set a large pot over medium-high heat. Add a thick film of olive oil. Add the parsnips, carrots, and leeks. Sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and dill sprigs, then the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer.

In a small bowl, combine a splash of warm broth and the miso, then stir to dilute. Pour that into the soup. Keep on a low simmer while you cook the matzo balls.

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Scoop the matzo meal mixture into rounded tablespoons—a cookie scoop works well here—then add to the water. (You should yield about 18 matzo balls.) Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the matzo balls to the soup and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.




ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE OLIVA
  • Illustration by Steve Oliva

Turkey and White Bean Chili Verde

Pork shoulder and Hatch chilies are signature in Southwestern chili verde. In this version, we'll do away with both. Leftover turkey cuts down on the cooking time by a few hours. And poblanos are easier to access around here. I also add in some white beans because, well, I just love beans; feel free to leave them out if you don't. Serve this with a skillet of cornbread, pot of brown rice, or stack of warm flour tortillas.

Yield: 2+ quarts

1 pound (about 5) poblanos

1 jalapeño

1 pound, 10 ounces (about 9) tomatillos, peeled and halved

Canola oil

Kosher salt, to taste

1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro (stems are fine!)

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

5 garlic cloves, minced or Microplaned

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 cups chicken broth, divided

1 pound roast turkey, chopped

1 (15.5-ounce) can white beans, such as cannellini, drained

Lime wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the poblanos and jalapeños on a lined sheet tray. Put the tomatillos on a separate, lined sheet tray. To each, drizzle with canola oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the peppers are soft and starting to char, and the tomatillos are collapsed and juicy.

Transfer the peppers to a glass bowl and cover with plastic film to steam for about 10 minutes. This should loosen their skins. Pulse the cilantro in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add the tomatillos (and all their juices!) and process until smooth. Meanwhile, set a large pot over medium heat, then add a thin film of canola oil. Add the onion and season generously with salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until soft and starting to take on a pale, golden color. (If the onions begin to stick at all, just add a splash of water.) Add the garlic and cumin. Stir-fry for a minute until toasty and fragrant. Deglaze with 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Add the tomatillo-cilantro puree, chopped turkey, and beans.

While that comes to a simmer, peel, deseed, and roughly chop the peppers (a few skin stragglers is fine!). Add those to a food processor with the remaining 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and process until smooth. Add to the pot. Season with salt to taste. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, until the flavors get to know one another, and everything is hot.

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