Saturday, December 3, 2016

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey - fun with Corn Chowder!

Many of you who know us know we usually make Turkey Pot Pies (see the recipe on our blog) with leftover Thanksgiving goodies. We still love Turkey Pot Pie, but we still have so many from last year (an even bigger bird than this year!), we decided we would do other things with this year's leftover turkey (we roasted a 33# bird from the flock we raised).

So I made a Turkey Corn Chowder that is savory and yummy out of part of the leftovers. Here's how it came to be:

Finished Turkey Corn Chowder

First, right after Thanksgiving, I put the turkey carcass, from which most of the large meat pieces had been removed, into our 22-quart stock pot, along with some carrot, onion, and celery, to make turkey stock.

When the stock was done simmering, I had pulled the carcass bones and all the meat that had cooked off out of the pot, picking out bones from the meat. I had about 2 quarts of small chunks and bits of turkey, most of which was the very tender, sweet meat that is around the bones. That covered bowl went into the fridge until I could decide what kind of soup I wanted to make.

I got 7 quarts of canned turkey stock from that process (yum!), rich and good with the turkey flavor. I had kept back about two additional quarts for making a soup. The cool thing about making stock from the Thanksgiving turkey is that there is a little bit of our stuffing left in that carcass, so the flavors of that carries through into the stock — tasty!

I had been thinking about the soup, dithering over possibly making a gumbo again, or a turkey-rice soup with lots of carrots and celery in it, but I make that sort of thing often with chicken and I was feeling bored with the idea. Then I thought about how good a sweet corn chowder is, and I know I've had chowders with chicken, so how hard can it be, right? And, I love the seasoning in gumbo, so this is kind of a mashup:

Turkey Corn Chowder

2 large carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed/chopped
1 stick of butter
1 cup flour

2 quarts of cooked turkey from carcass or chopped up from other leftovers
2 quarts of turkey stock from cooking down the carcass, or canned chicken stock
3 # or so of frozen corn - I used my corn from our garden, but you can use canned or frozen corn. Drain the canned corn, unless you want the additional liquid.

2 cups Half & Half
1 TB or to taste of Creole seasoning

Chop the carrots, celery, and onion into small pieces, smash and chop the garlic, and simmer all in about half the butter on a low-medium heat with a cover on until the veggies are getting soft.  This is a good base for many cooked casseroles, etc., usually referred to on cooking shows as "mirepoix".

Add the other half stick of butter to the pan and sprinkle/stir in the cup of flour, a little at a time, blending in so it doesn't get lumpy. After it's all in, turn the heat up to medium and stir until the raw taste is gone from the flour. You'll smell the butter browning and a "toasty" smell when the flour is cooked enough. Adding the flour and toasting it in the butter makes your mixture into a roux, which will help thicken your chowder, as well as incorporate all the flavors of your mirepoix!

Set the veggie roux aside and let it cool.

Put your turkey, stock, and corn into a pot and heat. When this mixture begins to bubble, you can stir in the veggie roux and continue to cook until it thickens to your desired consistency.

Turn down the heat to low and stir in the Half & Half and the Creole seasoning, stirring through well. Taste and add more seasoning if desired. Creole seasoning has a lot of salt, plus the spicier ingredients, so don't add salt until you've gotten the Creole seasoning in the pot - let it simmer in for a few minutes so you can tell if the flavor of the seasoning blooms and is enough. Creole is a little spicy, so if you're not crazy about "hot spicy", use some of that and then some salt to taste if you want more salt. But, if you like spicy, season to taste with the Creole seasoning. That has become my new favorite spice for chicken and for fish, also - a piece of salmon baked with Creole seasoning on it is to die for!