Leftover Central

I found a turkey in my freezer a few weeks ago. What? Yeah, that’s right. Our CSA, which although I did love it I’m glad it’s finally finished because we had way too much food, included a rather large turkey right before Thanksgiving last year. Generally, I’d think that was pretty great, because we could use a turkey around Thanksgiving, but we’d already ordered ours since Chris likes his heritage turkeys and the farm we ordered from last time sold out quickly.

That said, I’ve never been one to complain about having too much meat around the house (that’s what she said). The down side with the turkey, however, is that it took up a lot of precious space in that little freezer of ours. So after Christmas I vowed to roast that sucker, and have turkey leftovers for days.

Strangely enough, I’ve never roasted a turkey before. That’s Chris’ job; I make the other fixin’s for the best holiday ever, and he cooks the bird. So I was sorta excited that I got to pick my own recipe, and do my own thing.

Also, I would never get away with stuffing cilantro into a turkey on Thanksgiving, because Chris would promptly say, “that’s not traditional”. What can I say, he likes his traditions; I like my cilantro.

I should state here that I’m aware that posting a turkey recipe in the middle of February might not be the smartest idea, but for two reasons I felt it still post-worthy, and actually rather genius, I might add:

For one, this is easily adapted to chicken, and nothing’s better than tossing a chicken into the oven and roasting it whole for a nice Sunday dinner. Just scale back the ingredients and cooking time, and the deed is done.

And second, if you can get your hands on a turkey this time of year, it’s probably much cheaper than buying it in November, and you can save all the uneaten meat in your freezer for months, resulting in oodles of leftover recipes. This is exactly why I was reminded of this recipe, as I’ve been trying to use up all that stuff in the freezer, and as a result I located a bag of shredded turkey.

Said turkey went a long way, that’s for sure. Mexican turkey soup, turkey salad, a mouth-watering turkey pot pie adapted from a previous recipe that’s been on my mind since I made it and as a result has been my dinner all. week. long, and even some turkey tacos.

Of course, you could just have an impromptu ‘Thanksgiving dinner’ in February, and there’d be not nary a thing wrong with that either.

Apple-Poblano Roasted Turkey
adapted from Cooking Light, November 2010; serves at least 12

time commitment: 3 hours, most of which is inactive

the original recipe included a 24-hour brine, which I’m usually a big fan of, but I skipped it this time and the turkey was plenty juicy and flavorful.

printable version

1  (12-pound) organic fresh turkey
1  T  brown sugar
1  t  kosher salt
3/4  t  dried oregano
1/2  t  ground cumin
1/2  t  freshly ground black pepper
1/2  t  ground red pepper
1/4  t  ground coriander
3  Gala apples, quartered and divided
2  poblano chiles, quartered, seeded, and divided
1  c  cilantro leaves
Cooking spray
3  c  water
3  c  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2  T butter
2  c  chopped onion
5  garlic cloves, crushed
1.13  oz  all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
1  c  apple cider
3  T  chopped fresh cilantro
2  T  fresh lime juice

To prepare turkey, remove giblets and neck from turkey. Trim excess fat. Preheat oven to 500 F.

Pat turkey dry. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine 1 T sugar and next 6 ingredients (through coriander) in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture under loosened skin over flesh. Place 1 apple quarter and 1 poblano quarter in the neck cavity; close skin flap. Arrange 5 apple quarters, 1 poblano quarter, and 1 cup cilantro leaves in the body cavity. Secure legs with kitchen twine. Arrange turkey on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange remaining 6 apple quarters and 6 poblano quarters in bottom of roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Place rack with turkey in pan. Roast at 500 for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 F (do not remove turkey from oven). Place a foil tent over turkey breast. Pour 3 cups water in bottom of pan. Bake turkey at 350 for 40 minutes. Rotate turkey, and baste with 3/4 cup broth. Roast for 30 minutes; rotate turkey. Baste with 3/4 cup broth. Roast 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 F. Remove from oven. Place turkey, breast side down, on a jelly-roll pan or cutting board. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve breast side up.

Strain pan drippings through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in chopped garlic; sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Sprinkle flour over onion mixture; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add drippings, remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, and 1 cup apple cider; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 3 cups (about 15 minutes). Strain through a sieve over a bowl, and discard solids. Stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice. Carve and serve with gravy.

An Affair, of Sorts

Burgers used to be reserved for parties (July 4th, anyone?), and those heavily anticipated trips to McDonald’s, although to tell you the truth, I was more of a “McNugget” kinda girl in my younger days, because that way I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of them putting mustard on my patty. Now that I’ve decided to befriend mustard of all shapes and sizes, lastly the deli-style, I’ve moved to ordering cheeseburgers at Mickey D’s, and although I know there’s more corn than meets the eye in that burger, probably more corn than beef, I do enjoy them once every year or so. The chopped onions and pickles are the best part, really. Or is it the McFlurry, or the fries?

However. We didn’t have White Castle in North Carolina as we do in Illinois, and if I got to choose my fast-food burger joint, I’d possibly choose White Castle over the Golden Arches, extra grease and all. I enjoy the ‘regular’ slider, but Hubs prefers the ones with jalapeños. The beauty of White Castle is that the burgers are teeny weeny, so you can get both. Maybe even two or three of both. Just sayin’.

Holy crap. I realized when re-reading this that I totally forgot about Culvers! Okay, Culvers wins over them all….. hands down.

Thanks be to our CSA meat share, rather than choosing the dish and then procuring the ingredients, I’ve started choosing recipes based on what protein’s in the freezer and what veggies are left in the crisper, and then I fill in with a trip to the g-store. We plowed through the pork sausage relatively quickly, used some chicken thighs in a lackluster paella recipe (use this one instead, please), not to mention the last of my smuggled Spanish chorizo, and have now made burgers twice in the past two weeks. Yes, twice.

I see no problem with that. And you shouldn’t either.

In fact, I’d like to invest in a meat grinder attachment in an effort to take my relationship with burgers to the next level, if you catch my drift. But for now, since vacation is nigh and ‘unreasonable spending’ is frowned upon (but really, is a $30 meat grinder unreasonable?!), I’ll be settling on the pasture-fed, organic meat from the local farmers that’s supplied to me monthly, by the box, at the little kitchen store across the street.

This relationship is sort of on the back burner, I suppose. But I’m not hiding anything – I want it, and bad I’m afraid.

If you’re also not quite ready for that next stage in meat-lovin’, might I suggest that you try out some ground bison, if you haven’t already? There’s certainly nothin’ wrong with sirloin, or ground chicken or turkey even, but bison is another beast, if you will. There’s a lot less intramuscular fat in bison than in beef, and as a result you wind up with healthier burgers that are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. If you’re not sold on the healthy schmealthy stuff, try this on for size: they taste better too.

Of course, with a recipe like this, it’s quite possibly hard to go wrong no matter what ground variety you choose. The poblanos add a little spice but not too much heat, and the chipotle cream is a concoction that will sub for cheese any day, and before now I thought there was no such thing as a burger if it wasn’t a cheeseburger. Pickled onions? The icing on the cake, or rather, the bun. Enough said.

Roasted Poblano & Bison Burgers with Pickled Onions & Chipotle Cream
Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2010; serves 4

printable version

2  poblano chiles
1/2  c  sugar
1/2  c  rice vinegar
1/2  c  water
1  jalapeño pepper, halved lengthwise
1 large red onion, sliced into thin, vertical pieces
1  T skim milk (or other milk)
1  slice of bread, crust removed, torn into tiny pieces
4 T fresh cilantro, minced, divided
1  t  g cumin
1/2  t  g coriander
1 t chipotle chile powder
1/2  t  kosher salt, divided
1/2  t  freshly ground black pepper, divided
1  lb g bison
1/2  c  light sour cream
1  T  minced shallots
1 garlic scape, minced (or 1 minced clove of garlic)
1  t  fresh lime juice
1 T + 1 t adobo sauce & 1 minced chipotle chile (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
Cooking spray
4 hamburger buns, toasted

turn burner on medium-high heat. place poblano chiles directly on burner/flame and turn often with tongs to char all sides (~8 minutes). Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chiles, and discard membranes. Finely chop.

meanwhile, pickle the onions. bring sugar, vinegar and water to boil and toss in sliced onions. turn off heat and let sit for about 5 minutes, covered. rinse onions in cold water and refrigerate until ready to use (extra pickled onions can store in the fridge for a couple weeks).

combine milk and bread in a large bowl; mash bread mixture with a fork until smooth. Add poblano chile, 2 T cilantro, cumin, coriander, chipotle chile powder, 1/4 t salt, 1/4 t black pepper, and bison to milk mixture, tossing gently to combine (don’t overwork or you’ll have tough burgers, which is bad). Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press your thumb gently in the center of each patty to form a small indentation (this prevents the burger from shrinking, which is also bad).

preheat grill or grill pans to medium-high heat.

combine the remaining cilantro, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in sour cream, shallots, scapes/garlic and lime juice. Add adobo sauce and minced chipotle pepper (remaining can of sauce/peppers can be covered and stored in the fridge for a few weeks).

place patties on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes or until grill marks appear. Carefully turn patties; grill an additional 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun; top each serving with chipotle cream and onions.