Meat, Fish, Poultry and Cheese

The Leftover Turkey List – Lucky Thirteen

Dr. Huey rose

This is rosa ‘Dr. Huey.’ He has absolutely nothing to do with turkey, leftover or otherwise. I’ve just had it with looking at food for a while.

These suggestions are offered just in case you are like me and turn out to still have some left. Eternity is famously “two people and a ham,” but turkey is even more so, in my opinion. This may have something to do with the fact that Bill is strictly a ham sandwich man, so I can’t count on lunch for help. (A bit about Dr. Huey follows.)

Thirteen Things to do with Leftover Turkey

shortcuts included

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After the Storm(s): Choosing – and Cooking – the Holiday Turkey

roast turkey

The turkey gets transferred to a cookie sheet and put in a VERY low oven to rest while I make the gravy. (Not wise to put it on the antique ironstone serving platter until the last minute.)

Ok, not right away for the cooking part. But Thanksgiving is coming at us at an alarming rate, earlier this year than ever, and it’s none too soon to be ordering a suitable turkey.

I am of course extremely grateful to be worrying about things like “what kind of turkey?” rather than things like “ will I have a home to cook the turkey in?” But no amount of gratitude solves the question of the hour: do I want a heritage turkey or just a plain old organic free range turkey?

While I’m making up my mind:

* My not very scientific comparison of heritage vs. (semi) conventional birds, along with a detailed explanation of why heritage costs so much, is here.

* Advice on special cooking techniques for heritage birds is in the second section of Wild Turkeys, Thanks but no Thanks.

* My detailed guide to size selection, brining, roasting, and gravy making, along with a recipe for wild mushroom and chestnut stuffing, is here.

* Local Harvest is the place to search a national database for (duh) a local bird.

and of course – VERY important, as far as my family is concerned –  there’s

* Fresh Chestnuts: Roasting them, Peeling them, Putting them in the Stuffing. (Especially useful for vegetarians and vegans, who may wish to move the chestnuts into a starring role).

Cooking Heritage Turkey For the Thanksgiving Feast

ceramic (majolica) gravy boat

A genuine heirloom (i.e. passed down through generations) turkey: my mother’s gravy boat. It has a matching ceramic ladle that broke about 15 years ago and has been in storage awaiting repair ever since. This speaks equally to my tendency to procrastinate and to the fact that said ladle, while cute, does not hold enough gravy to be practical.

In the edible bird department, some givens, about which more below:

1.) Like the proverbial yacht, if you have to ask how much a heritage turkey costs you probably can’t afford it.

2.) Buying a heritage turkey helps keep an endangered gene pool robust, so you get preservation points as well as a delicious dinner (assuming you cook it correctly).

I’m not in the yachting class and am already convinced on the deliciousness front, but I’m cooking two turkeys this year anyway, just for the sake of comparison.

One is a heritage bird from a farm about a half hour north of here, the other is an “organic, free range heirloom,” imported from Pennsylvania (about 5 hours south of here) by a specialty grocery. Although I haven’t cooked them yet, some things are already clear.

Those who simply want kitchen tips can go immediately to Roast Turkey 101.2 for general cooking hints and a recipe for wild mushroom stuffing. Guidance that’s specific to heritage birds is in the second part of  Wild Turkeys, Thanks But No Thanks. 

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Maine Crab and Lobster (Mushroom) Cakes – with Cilantro Nectarine Mayonnaise

crab cake with lobster mushroom

Maine crab and lobster mushrooms inside that crunchy crust

At the risk of jinxing things I have to say this is shaping up as a boffo mushroom year (in Midcoast Maine, anyway.) We haven’t had much chance to go out, but when we do we are finding things, including lobster mushrooms, which seem to be unusually abundant.

I am of the school that feels they get their name from their brilliant color. To me, the flavor is meaty, not fishy. But others claim they also taste faintly crustaceanlike. This isn’t as farfetched as it sounds; mushroom cell walls are primarily composed of chitin, the same material that makes crab and lobster shells.

Either way, they have a great affinity for Maine crabmeat, one of the world’s greatest seafoods.

cut crab and lobster mushroom cake

Those bright red bits are the mushroom

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Great Seafood Alert: Maine Shrimp (Pandalus Borealis)

Spicy Messy Coconut Shrimp – Thai(ish) fast food from Maine

Good News! Maine shrimp (Pandalus borealis), is starting to get around. Delicious, affordable, wonder of wonders sustainable, the only thing that has ever been wrong with it is that you pretty much couldn’t get it unless you lived in coastal Maine – or ate in extremely expensive restaurants.

That’s changing. More and more high end fish markets are carrying Maine, aka pink, shrimp, and it’s getting a little easier for those far from the shrimp boats to  miss a few of the middlemen. Port Clyde Fresh Catch, a fishermen’s marketing cooperative, is now selling in Brooklyn, New York and (go figure) Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

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Talk About Good! Chicken and Avocado Salad Lafayette Style, for the Super Bowl

That would be Lafayette, Louisiana, not Lafayette, Indiana. The style would be that of the city’s Junior League, circa1967, and Talk About Good! would be the title of  said Junior League’s classic fundraising cookbook, a spiral bound journey to the South that was popular long before the food of New Orleans achieved nationwide cult status.

At this point T.A.G is more of a cultural artifact than a source of great recipe ideas, but there are a few gems that still shine with undiminished luster. A “Congealed Avocado and Chicken salad,” for instance, contributed by Mrs. Jacque Puken, of Eunice, LA, doesn’t sound all that promising, but in fact it’s absolutely delicious and a perfect make-ahead for a crowd. It’s hearty enough to be a main dish, light enough to play well with all the chili, boudin and/or brats, easy to serve and easy to eat  – with or without a fork.

Molded and served like pate; no fork needed

Molded into a loaf and sliced; fork needed. Also chips. (Crunch must not be overlooked.)

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Easy Party Appetizer – Good Old Tea Leaf Eggs

Visiting Ilana yesterday, bringing a little box of belated pepparkakor chickens and some apples, not expecting anything in return but there was a carton of beautiful eggs. (Spring is supposed to mark the resumption of egg season – see Easter – but Ilana says her hens are already cranking up.)

Mentioned in thanking that I was going to a New Year’s party and might be asked to bring appetizers, in which case I’d make my gift into tea leaf eggs.

Tea Leaf Eggs made last fall. They were large eggs, better with wasabi dip than as deviled eggs with wasabi.

Tea Leaf Eggs, photographed (rather pinkly, for some reason; they aren't really) last fall. They were large eggs, better with wasabi dip than as deviled eggs with wasabi

Turned out that this caterer’s warhorse, deliciously smoky, beautifully marbled and remarkably easy to make was news to her, so I promised the recipe and here it is:

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Still Loving the Leftovers – In Classic Fashion

Even though we’ve had three days of feasting: two dinners and two lunches at our house, one dinner in town with another branch of the family.

leslie land thanksgiving bouquet

Local Thanksgiving bouquet – the very last chrysanthemums

Twelve people ate here between Thursday night and Saturday morning– several of us more than once – so even though the Poughkeepsie branch ( Saturday night) had leftovers of its own we ought, by rights, to be out of turkey.

We are not, even though the bird only weighed 12 pounds after I got done boning it.  There was so much other food the turkey was as in my opinion it should be, almost incidental.

If you don’t remember to remove the string that helped restore approximate turkey shape, the starring bird will have a bikini line.

If you don’t remember to remove the string that helped restore approximate turkey shape, the starring bird will have a bikini line.

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About That Bird – Turkey Tip Time Again

Roughly 15 years ago I wrote a piece for Yankee magazine titled something like “ The Only Roast Turkey Recipe You Will Ever Need.” Still substantially true, should you be the type who keeps clippings forever, but there have been a few refinements in the intervening years – mostly because there have been refinements in the turkeys themselves. Roast Turkey 101.2, The Upgrade, with Wild Mushroom Stuffing, was therefore rolled out last year.

Wild turkey booking it through the lower garden; she knows what's coming

Wild turkey booking it through the lower garden; she knows what's coming

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Maine Shrimp

“But how did you stand the winters?”

Anyone who’s lived in Maine year round and now doesn’t will be familiar with this question. There are lots of good answers but right now all I can think of is Northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, the glory of the Maine winter, sweet, tender and buttery.

Like the wild mushrooms of the warmer months, Maine shrimp are a gift of place. If you’re near the coast, they’re everywhere, especially in a good season. Never mind fishmarkets and grocery stores. Trucks!  By the side of the road. Two or three dollars a pound. Or you can be part of community supported fishing (CSF), pay in advance and be confident of the freshest and best every week.

Typical size is 40 or 50 per pound (headless)

Typical size is 40 or 50 per pound (headless)

The farther they must travel, the more they cost. But even at the 8.00/pound I recently paid in Manhattan out of a giant fit of homesickness, they’re a bargain. And talk about easy to cook!

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