Thanksgiving Leftovers Stew

Like many people, I am still faced with a pile of Thanksgiving leftovers several days after the event. I’ve had turkey sandwiches and Brussels sprouts for lunch and midnight snacks of stuffing. And yet despite all that, I still have a ton of food to use. Rather than let them go bad or try to throw them in freezer where they would sit for months, I opted to make a unilateral use of them. It was just a matter of being honest that, no, I wasn’t going to have time to make something with all that turkey meat AND make something with all the left over side dishes AND make something with all the left over turkey stock. So I made an easy turkey stew by throwing everything (Yes, everything) in the crockpot and beefing it up with rice . The cranberry sauce added a pleasant citrus note and the chopped giblets that never made it in the gravy added richness. The left over bread stuffing dissolved and thickened the stew along with a roux.

Thanksgiving leftovers stew

This really is an easy dinner to make while doing weekend housework and will feed everyone (at least in my house) for several days. This will be especially good on a series of days where we are expecting some serious rain and chills. A quick batch of biscuits to go along with the stew makes things perfectly filling and enjoyable. Sure it’s not exactly a low fat salad, but you can go to the gym later when it stops raining.

Approximately 8-12 oz of chopped turkey
Approximately 16-24 oz of left over side vegetables like squash and potatoes.
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
1 large carrot
2 large bay leaves
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp tarragon leaves
Olive oil as needed
3 cups turkey stock
3 cups water
1 cup of rice
1 stick butter
½ cup flour

1) Dice onion, celery and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until translucent.
2) Add turkey and mix well and then add poultry season, rosemary, tarragon and bay leaves. Mix well.
3) Add liquids and bring to boil.
4) Add everything to a crackpot and then add rice. Allow to simmer for 2-3 hours.
5) Melt butter and add flour and stir frequently over medium heat until roux begin to color to light brown. Add to crick pot and allow to thicken.

Because Pagerbear asked for it….

Catfish Poach with Radicchio Sauce and Roasted Garlic Brown Rice

1 10-12oz catfish filet (or some other dense flakey fish)

3 T butter
1/4 c olive oil
7 cloves garlic
1 large yellow onion, ½” dice
1 large lemon, sliced in ¼” slices
1 medium sized head of radicchio, ½” dice
1 cup brown rice
2.5 cups water
3 cups dry white wine
1 T cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

Salt and pepper to taste

1) Place garlic cloves in a ramekin. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in preheated 400 oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool.
2) In a medium sized saucepan, sauté half the onion and 4 cloves of the roasted garlic together with 1 T butter and 1T olive oil. Add rice. Continue to sauté until rice begins to “pop”. Add water and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook over low heat, covered for 30 minutes.
3) Sautee remaining onion and garlic in 1 T butter and 2 T olive oil. Add lemon and continue to sauté until juice begins to release. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine. Bring to a simmer. Add catfish and submerge in poaching liquid. Maintain bare simmer for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove fish to a warmed plate. Remove lemon from liquid and bring to a boil. Add remaining butter. Allow to reduce by ½.
4) Meanwhile add remaining olive oil to sauté pan and heat to shimmering. Add radicchio and sauté till wilted.
5) Mix cornstarch and cold water until completely mixed and then pour into boiling liquid. When the sauce has thickened, pour over radicchio and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
6) Reheat the fish in the braising liquid.
7) Ladle rice into bowl and portion out fish and top with radicchio sauce.

Dinner Date

“Am I going to see you before I go out of town?” he asked in a text message.

“Yes. Thurs eve wrk 4 u?” I texted back feeling like a teenaged girl.

He was a little late, but had a viable and valid reason. As I let him in and followed him back up the stairs, he said “I brought cookies to make up for it.” and shook a brown paper bag at me temptingly. I reached up to kiss him hello and my hand landed in the small of his back.

He had arrived just as I had finished cubing some chicken. Tossed plenty of salt and pepper over it and threw it in a smoking hot cast iron pan. It sizzled and I tossed it around while I caught myself making nervous conversation and surprised myself at being nervous at all. I should be old hat at dating, and yet I’m still not.

I added oil to some brown rice pilaf and cranked up the heat so it fried and caramelized a little before spooning it into the bottom of two deep bowls. It lay there and crumbled while I babbled on about something.

While I did this, he came up behind me and rested his chin on my shoulder. “Whatcha doin?”

“Making you dinner.”

“Ah.” He had told me the first time we got together that he has “the metabolism of a hummingbird”, so I ladled plenty of black beans over the rice. The steam rose up from the pot and fogged my glasses a little. He asked me to hold back with the beans. Um… ok. The chicken had browned and I could smell the fresh pepper on it as I added it to the top of the beans. I glanced up at him as he watched me fill each bowl, attempting to be equal with the portioning.

Some diced tomato and shredded cheddar filled it up and then topped off with some pickled cactus pureed in tofu. A spoon, a fork and a glass of water and we went and watched a movie. A dinner of left overs, but still good.

He devoured it. I barely finished mine. After, he lay back on my chest and fed me a cookie from the bag, and I draped an arm around him.

Not bad for a second get together.

Check List

2 dozen spice cookies with chocolate ganache – done

giant bowl of chex mix – done

garlic sausage rolls – in the oven

glazed ham – in the oven

sweedish meatballs – next on my list

crudite – as soon as my roommate gets out of bed

cheese and beer dip – will do that once the meatballs are done

grog – will get that percolating around 2

nog – apparently we have a few people with immune system issues so no raw egg rum for us

Starting a new holiday tradition – in progress

Of loaves and fishes

Thursday night I’m having six people over for dinner. I’m planning a sumptuous feast that will leave them gasping, panting and singing my praises to the top of Mount Tam.

Or not.

I was dutifully informed by one of my guests that her husband is violently allergic to garlic. He’s ok with onions, shallots and scallions, but garlic will leave him gasping for breath while large sores erupt on his body…. or something equally inconvenient but not quite as severe. I pity the poor man who has been forced to avoid the pleasures of the root, but I will adjust my menu accordingly.

This actually the largest dinner party I’ve thrown in several years and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m also already behind schedule on the cooking. A five course meal is easy to pull off if you’re organzied. I beleive in the old adage “Plan your work and work your plan.” I just need to actually sit down and formulate a plan.

My lunch hour will see me at the Ferry Building getting some last minute ingredients that are vital to my concept. Things I wouldn’t deign to buy at Safeway. Some good cheese, nice flavorful mushrooms, and some secret stuff that I won’t talk about here because I know that at least four of the people coming on Thursday read this blog.

Once I get back from the Ferry Building, my plan of attack will be made. I need to decide what I can make tonight, what I can make tomorrow night, and what I can do at the last minute on Thursday. This way I can also tell them that I cooked for them for three days… THREEE DAYS! DO YOU HEAR ME!?! THREE LONG AGANIZING DAAAAYS!!!

I also at some point need to go into my bedroom, pick the dirty clothes up OFF the floor and do something with them. I need to change my sheets, or at the very minimum, make my bed. What this has to do with preparing a five course meal for seven people, I really don’t know. It has something to do with watching my mother scrub her house from top to bottom in anticipation of people coming over. It was usually a brutal process that included cleaning areas that I was sure would never be seen by who ever was coming over. I remember her cleaning out the basement once. I asked her why and she said she just couldn’t handle knowing that she’d have guests “sitting right on top of this pig sty”.

Um, ok.

Yet it seems to have rubbed off on me. I walked past my room on my way out the door to work this morning and my mother’s voice rebounded in my head. “pig sty….pig sty… pig sty…” With a mildly panicked feeling, I realized I had people coming over and they would see how I really live. They would sit in quiet judgement of me over the first course. By the time we had moved onto the second course they would have begun conspiring with each other. By the time the third course was cleared, an open revolt would be in process and by the fourth, I would be running for my life. By dessert, I would be in a fetal postion in the corner saying “IT”S JUST A LITTLE DIRTY LAUNDRY!!!!!” while clutching a broken bottle of cabernet as a weapon and flinging garlic at random guests.

Or not.