Repurposing turkey

November 28, 2011

This may be a record. Tonight marks the end of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Of which I do not have a photo because, well, I didn’t take a photo. But this was them before they got all  roasted and sliced and stuff.

Poor little armless, legless turkeys. But they were good.

You will recall I had gotten a fresh turkey breast, and then went back and got another one when I discovered I was having more guests than originally intended. So here they are, my twin quadruple amputee turkeys, after having been brined in garbage bags inside a liquor box for 24 hours. The brine was:

  • 6 quarts of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup molasses
  • A bunch of fresh sage leaves
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • A bunch of ice cubes (about 4 quarts’ worth)

Bring everything except the ice cubes to a boil. I mean, really, would it seriously make sense to boil the ice cubes? I thought not. So don’t try it. Add the ice cubes to the brine, or if your pot is not big enough to do so, put them in the garbage bags in the liquor box and pour the brine over them.

It occurs to me that if you were a little iffy about using a liquor box to brine your turkey — and I don’t know why you would be, because it worked just fine — you could go to WalMart and get you a Rubbermaid tub. Me, I’ll use the liquor box. Oh, and it would probably not be good to use the scented garbage bags. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, that’s the recipe from Epicurious for turkey brine, and I testify to it. It turned out some extremely moist turkeys, baked as you can see with a half-stick of butter, some more sage and some more thyme in each cavity. And I baked ’em upside down because that always seems to make ’em moister. More moist. Whatever.

All of which brings me to the purpose of tonight’s post, the repurposing of turkey. First, you give half of it away to your kids. Then, you eat two or three slices in sandwiches. You take half of what’s left and you make a turkey shepherd’s pie, which has the double whammy of getting rid of both your leftover mashed potatos AND your turkey, AND your gravy, as well as any little dibs of veggies you may have had.

Simplicity in itself. Warm the gravy, just because it works easier. Dice up the turkey — I used about a cup and a half — and stir that in. I cooked some diced carrots and diced potato, added that in, and added a single serving of green peas.

Warm the mashed potatos, and if needed, thin them down a little with some added butter and/or milk. Stir them up well, and spoon them into a big plastic bag. Snip off the corner of the bag, and use it like a pastry bag to pipe the potatos on top of the pie. Because if you just try to spoon them on and smooth them out, they will get all smooshed down into your filling and that is not a Good Thing.

Bake the thing at 350 or so for about 40 minutes. I turned my oven on broil and cranked it up for the last 5 or so of that to brown the top.

I am not a connoisseur of shepherd’s pie to start with, but I thought it was OK. Down the hill neighbor said it was excellent, but she compliments everything I make. NS, who is the real shepherd’s pie fan in the house, did not care for it, I think probably because it was not like a real shepherd’s pie. Oh, well.

The remainder of the leftovers went into turkey enchiladas tonight. I have detailed the making of chicken enchiladas before, so I won’t bother to do it again. These are the same, but with turkey, and I defy you to tell the difference.

Now the only leftovers I have left are some dressing, which I have eaten two meals off of, and the cranberry salad, which I am savoring. The rest has been farmed out to other folks. If you and y’mama ‘n ’em had been here for Thanksgiving, I’d have sent some home with you, too.

This week’s cold weather is calling for red beans and rice. I think that’s on Wednesday’s menu. Tomorrow’s a reception, Thursday is I-have-no-idea, and I’m outta here Friday for the weekend in Atlanta which, I hope, will bring a repeat visit to Murphy’s Wine Bar.  Will touch base with you and y’mama ‘n ’em at some point!

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