Archive for November, 2011

Turkey Soup from Leftovers

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Make a simple, comforting soup from your turkey leftovers. The stock is a bit cloudy, not clear like a stock made from raw meat, but has good flavor.

For the turkey bone stock:

    Cooked turkey bones and skin leftover from your
    Roast Turkey, coarsely chopped
    1 onion, coarsely chopped
    2 carrots, coarsely chopped
    2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
    Any leftover Turkey Stock
    1 bay leaf
    1 tsp dried thyme or sprigs of fresh thyme
    1 bay leaf
    a tsp of black peppercorns
    1 T salt more or less

For the soup:

    2-4 T olive oil or a combo of oil and butter
    1 onion, diced
    1-2 carrots, diced
    2 celery stalks, diced
    1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
    The strained turkey bone stock (above)
    1/2-1 tsp dried thyme
    2 T or so fresh parsley, chopped
    Leftover roast turkey meat, chopped
    Something starchy such as 1/4 lb fettuccini or noodles, 1/2 cup rice, a couple of chopped small white potatoes, a cup of cooked cannellini or other beans, or croutons or chunks of leftover coarse Italian bread (optional)
    Extra vegetables such as 1/2 c frozen tiny peas or corn, fresh chopped green beans, leftover cooked vegetables, or any other vegetables you have in your refrigerator (optional)
    Fresh parsley (optional)
    Any leftover turkey gravy (optional)
    A squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
    A bit of cream or a dollop of sour cream (optional)

Make the turkey bone stock:

Pick off any meat remaining on the turkey carcass and set aside to add to the soup later. Put the remaining bones and all the other stock ingredients into a large soup pot. Add enough leftover Turkey Stock (from before you roasted your turkey) and/or water to cover by 1-2 inches. Bring to a simmer and simmer, partially covered, for an hour or two.

Strain the stock through a colander or sieve into a large bowl or pan. Squeeze the remaining veggies lightly to get out as much liquid as you can without squishing them. Discard the bones, veggies, and other solids (or feed some of the meat to your dog, if that’s allowed)

If you’re not making a soup with this stock right away, you can freeze it for later.

Make the soup:

Heat the oil or oil/butter combo over medium heat in a large pot. Add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery and stir until onions are translucent and veggies are starting to brown. If you are adding garlic, add it after the onions, etc have cooked a few minutes. Don’t let the oil/butter burn. Reduce the heat if the veggies are browning too fast.

Add 4 or more cups of turkey bone stock (the amount depends on how much soup you want to end up with, how many additional ingredients or how much leftover turkey you have to add, etc – you can always add more stock or if you underestimate the amount of liquid you will need) and bring to a simmer. If you’re adding fresh vegetables such as green beans, add them now. If you are adding rice, add it now. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. If you are adding pasta, potatoes, cooked dry beans, or frozen veggies, add them after the soup has simmered for about 10 minutes. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes until these ingredients are almost tender. Add the leftover turkey meat, and any leftover cooked vegetables and gravy, and bring back to the simmer, cooking only until the turkey is hot, about 5-10 minutes. (If you cook it more than this, the leftover turkey will disintegrate into shreds, which is still tasty, but not as aesthetically pleasing.) if you want to add a bit of creaminess to the soup, add a half cup or so of heavy cream with the meat.

Taste the soup for salt and pepper and add more if necessary. Add a tablespoon or so of freshly chopped parsley if you have it and/or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. If you are using the sour cream, add a small dollop to each bowl. if you are serving the soup with croutons or bread chunks, add those at the table.


This is a loosey-goosey soup. The basic soup without all the optional ingredients is very soothing, but you can add pretty much anything to it and can vary the proportions depending on what you have around. I wouldn’t add all these optional ingredients. if you’re adding a starchy ingredient, just use one. You can’t really go wrong with adding extra veggies, but think about whether they will complement each other. For any optional ingredient, be sure you allow time for it to cook through without getting mushy. I’d avoid really strong veggies like brussell sprouts or broccoli. You can add leftover stuffing, but it gives an unsatisfactory texture to the soup that I don’t like.

I sometimes like to add a lot of fettuccini so that it turns out less like turkey noodle soup and more like turkey soupy noodles.

Roast Stuffed Turkey & Gravy

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

This is a combination of my mother Kitsy Bell’s recipe and the Roast Turkey recipe in From Julia Child’s Kitchen. See Roast Turkey – Need to Know for things you need to know before you start. That post explains buying the turkey and the various steps you need to take to get it all done in time. This isn’t a one-day process.

Recommended equipment:

    Large turkey roasting pan that can go on the burner as well (not the flimsy aluminum ones)
    Bulb baster
    Trussing needle, small metal skewers, or round toothpicks
    White kitchen twine
    2 wide spatulas or turkey lifters
    Cutting board or serving platter


    1 recipe Turkey Stuffing
    1 recipe Turkey Stock
    1 stick butter, melted
    Flour for the gravy
    Extra herbs if desired
    Pretty things to put around the turkey on the serving platter


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Wash and dry the turkey. Remove any loose fat from the cavity and discard.

Lightly stuff the cavities with the Turkey Stuffing. Don’t stuff the bird until you are ready to roast. Put the extra stuffing in a casserole and bake with the turkey for the last hour or so of cooking.

Truss the turkey. This entails closing the cavity openings and securing the wings and legs to the body. Use a trussing needle or, if you don’t have a needle, tie or wrap the twine around the bird at the wings and legs, tuck the wingtips behind, and/or tie the leg ends together.

Put the turkey breast side up in the big roasting pan and rub/pour about half the butter over it. Bake at 325 degrees, basting every 30 minutes or so with the butter or drippings in the roasting pan. If the turkey starts to get too brown, you can lightly cover with a tent made of foil.

Use the turkey timetable to determine the length of cooking required. Turkey is done when the leg wiggles in the socket and/or the thigh meat reaches a temperature of 180 degrees.

Remove the turkey from the oven. Transfer it to a cutting board or serving platter and let it rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before carving. Longer is okay. Don’t discard the juices in the pan. Use for gravy – see below.

Make the Gravy:

Spoon the excess fat off the top of the juices remaining in the roasting pan. Put the pan on the stove burner and stir in 2 T flour for every cup of Turkey Stock you have left. If you don’t have as much stock as you like, you can supplement with Chicken Stock that you made on another occasion and put in your freezer. Use a spatula to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and thoroughly incorporate the flour into the fat. Let this cook for 30 seconds or so, then stir in the stock, scraping and stirring until it comes to a gentle boil and is homogenous. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed. You can add more fresh herbs or other things to the gravy if you want.

The next day, you can make Turkey Soup from Leftovers.

For more information on turkeys, including recipes, go to the National Turkey Federation‘s website.

Turkey Stuffing

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

This is my mother Kitsy Bell’s recipe for a tasty stuffing for your Roast Turkey, which I’ve tweaked over the years. Mix the dry ingredients for the stuffing and make the stock the day before you plan to cook the turkey, but don’t stuff the turkey until just before you roast it.

    1 recipe non-sweet, coarsely-grained Cornbread
    About 6 slices of non-sweet, coarsely-grained bread
    4-5 sticks of celery, chopped
    2-3 onions, chopped
    A handful of chopped parsley
    1-2 T or more each minced fresh sage and thyme
    1/2 to 1 c Turkey Stock
    1/2 c or so melted butter
    Salt & pepper

Slowly toast the bread slices in a 200-250 degree oven until they are dried out. Allow 1 hour or more for this. You can do this days ahead if you want.

Crumble the dry bread slices and the cornbread into a large bowl. You don’t want large hunks, so crumble rather finely. Add the chopped veggies and herbs, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour some melted butter and stock over and toss together (with your hands is best). Add just enough liquid to gently moisten the dry ingredients. You don’t want it to be wet. Store in plastic bags in the refrigerator until you are ready to stuff the turkey.

To stuff the turkey, gently fill the cavities with stuffing. Don’t mash it in tight, as it will swell during cooking and get too dense. Secure the turkey skin flaps over the cavity openings to hold the stuffing. If you have a trussing needle and twine, sew them closed. If you don’t, you can use skewers or toothpicks.

You’ll have extra stuffing, which you can put in a casserole, cover, and bake with the turkey. Add extra butter and stock to stuffing that’s baked in a casserole to make it moister and baste with some of the turkey drippings if you want. I like to keep my drippings for gravy so I don’t usually put them on the casserole stuffing.

This recipe is a general guide. You can change the amount of veggies, you can saute the veggies before you add them, you can add other things like oysters, water chestnuts, nuts, cooked sausage, lightly sauteed bits of the turkey liver, etc. You can vary the herbs or used dried herbs (use about 1/3 of the amount called for in the recipe for starters). Have fun with it!

Turkey Stock

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

This is adapted from From Julia Child’s Kitchen, by Julia Child.

    The turkey giblets (neck, heart, and gizzard – save the liver to add to the stuffing or for another use)
    4 T cooking oil
    1 c chopped onions
    1 c chopped celery
    1 c chopped carrots
    1 c dry white wine or 2/3 c dry white French vermouth (optional)
    2 c chicken stock (or water)
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 tsp dried thyme or few sprigs of fresh
    Several sprigs of fresh parsley (optional)

Remove the package of giblets from the turkey and wash them. Chop the neck into several pieces, quarter the gizzard, and halve the heart. Dry on paper towels. Set the liver aside for another use.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stockpot, stir in the giblets, and brown them rapidly on all sides. Don’t let the oil burn. Remove the giblets and stir in the chopped veggies. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let the veggies cook for 5-8 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat, and let them brown slightly, stirring.

Return the giblets to the pan, add the wine, stock, herbs, salt, and enough water to cover the ingredients by an inch or so. You should have a total of 4-5 cups of liquid. Simmer partially covered for 1-3 hours. (Julia says 2-1/2 to 3 hrs, but you can get a good stock in an hour.) Add more water if the liquid evaporates too much. You want to end up with about 3 cups of stock in the end.

Stain, discard the giblets and veggies, allow to cool, and store the stock in the refrigerator. Use for moistening the stuffing, making the gravy or adding to a Turkey Soup made from leftovers later in the week.


Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Adapted from The Greens Cook Book by Deborah Madison. This is a non-sweet, coarsely-textured cornbread with excellent flavor.

    1 c white flour
    1 c cornmeal
    2 T sugar
    2-1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 eggs
    1 c milk
    2 T melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then stir in the milk and butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir just enough to combine – about 15-16 strokes. Overmixing causes the cornbread to be tough. Pour into the buttered pan and bake until the corn bread is firm anda toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Total time: about 45 minutes. This is the ideal cornbread for turkey stuffing.

Roast Turkey – Need to Know

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

This information is adapted from Julia Child’s book From Julia Child’s Kitchen. Another good source of turkey basics is the National Turkey Federation.

Buying the turkey (and thawing it if it’s frozen):

Buy your turkey from a meat market or grocer who is serious about providing high-quality food. If possible, buy a fresh (unfrozen), organically-raised turkey with no added brine, water, butter, etc. Read the label, because sometimes turkeys are injected with stuff to plump them up.

Frozen turkeys are okay too, but you must defrost them completely in the refrigerator before cooking (this takes a minimum of 3-4 days to accomplish). If the price on the frozen turkey is really low, it’s probably last year’s bird that’s been stored for a year – don’t buy this. To defrost a frozen turkey, leave it in its wrapper in the refrigerator until it’s fully thawed. Then unwrap it and pull out the package of giblets in the cavity. If they’re still frozen, so is part of the turkey. You can finish thawing at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Don’t leave it at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. An alternative way to thaw the turkey is to put it, still wrapped, in a sinkful of water. It will take at least 12 hours to thaw. (It’s safer to do it in the refrigerator.) Frozen turkeys spoil more rapidly than fresh ones, so you have to be ready to roast it within a day or so of thawing.

Stuffing or not?

An unstuffed turkey is easy to prepare for roasting and can be prepared for roasting the day ahead. The bird will cook faster, the breast will be juicier because it is less likely to overcook, and a handful of aromatic vegetables trussed inside the cavity will flavor the meat nicely. Julia Child likes to do the stuffing separately, but I think the stuffing tastes so much better if it’s been cooked in the bird, so I always stuff. She bakes the stuffing in a covered casserole in a pan of water and bastes it with the roasting juices.

The Steps to Turkey and a Timetable

4 days before roasting:

    1. Thaw the turkey if it is frozen. See above.

The day before roasting:

    2. Make a Turkey Stock from the giblets (if you are using a frozen turkey, it will need to be thawed first). This will take 2-4 hours. Do this the day before you cook the turkey.
    3. Make the stuffing. Prepare the chopped vegetables and herbs and the dry ingredients the day before. This entails making a loaf of coarse-grained non-sweet bread (you can buy this) and a recipe of a coarse-grained, non-sweet Cornbread. (Don’t use a box mix or buy pre-baked cornbread at the grocer – these will be sweet. Making cornbread from scratch is really easy – you can do it.) If you are a bread baker, you’ll have a recipe. If you are not, buy a rustic loaf. I prefer white bread, but a whole grain bread is fine. Be careful that your bread isn’t sweet – most commercial whole grain breads seem to be. Making bread takes 3-4 hours. Making the cornbread takes about an hour or so.

On the day you’re roasting and serving:

    4. Prepare the turkey.
    5. Roast the turkey. See below for a timetable.
    6. Make the gravy while the turkey rests out of the oven.

Roasting Timetable (charts from the National Turkey Federation)

For unstuffed, moderately chilled turkeys roasted at 325 degrees

8-12 lbs: 2-3/4 to 3 hours
12-14 lbs: 3 to 3-3/4 hours
14-18 lbs: 3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours
18-20 lbs: 4-1/4 to 4-1/2 hours
20-24 lbs: 4-1/2 to 5 hrs

For stuffed, moderately chilled turkeys roasted at 325 degrees

8-12 lbs: 3 to 3-1/2 hours
12-14 lbs: 3-1/2 to 4 hours
14-18 lbs: 4 to 4-1/2 hours
18-20 lbs: 4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours
20-24 lbs: 4-3/42 to 5-1/4 hrs

Add a buffer of 20-30 minutes to the times on the timetable plus 20-30 minutes for the turkey to rest out of the oven before carving.

If you have a meat thermometer, you can use it to fine-tune the cooking times. Remove the turkey from the oven when the breast meat registers 170 degrees and/or the thigh meat registers 180 degrees. The turkey is done when the legs can be wiggled in their sockets.