THANKSGIVING Day is the easy part: Get one turkey; stuff it; set oven at 350 degrees F.; put turkey in oven; remove when done; eat.
That's what everyone wants. And that's what everyone expects. No surprises, no disappointments, no complaints.
Then there's the next day - Leftover Day. And what to do with that carcass in the fridge that looks like a remnant from Jurassic Park?
Of course, there are a few ways to get around the situation:
1. Eat out in a restaurant, and don't ask for a doggie bag.
2. Get a turkey smaller than you need, and pick it to pieces. (Of course, this still leaves you with the bones of the sacrificial bird with which you'll have to make soup.)
3. Throw tradition to the trash, and serve salmon. (This will also solve the who-gets-the-white-meat, who-gets-the-dark-meat dinner battle.)
Then there are those who believe leftover turkey is the best part. Chef Kyle, executive chef here at The Spa at Dural in Miami, thinks so.
''Even though I was an only child,'' the attractive, former Christian Dior model says, ''we always got a big 24-pound turkey for Thanksgiving. My father did most of the cooking. He'd stuff the turkey and sew it up with the traditional big old needle and thread. It had to go in the oven the night before, and we'd stay up and baste it all night.
''But we lived for the leftovers. My favorite was turkey sandwiches [spread] with leftover cranberry sauce.'' Although Chef Kyle (who, by the way, never uses her first name) is single, she still buys a large turkey especially for those leftovers. In fact her least-favorite Thanksgiving Day was when she ate out. ''I took my father to Tavern on the Green in New York. I hated it. We didn't have any leftovers.''
This is Chef Kyle's first Thanksgiving at the spa, and she is planning to serve traditional Roast Turkey with Walnut-Raisin Stuffing. A few of the accompanying dishes Chef Kyle is preparing include Harvest Greens with Mandarin Orange Segments and Toasted Almonds; Wild Mushroom Soup; Maple-Stuffed Sweet Potato; Cranberry Salsa; and Pumpkin Cheesecake.
And as ruler of the kitchen, she gets all the leftover turkey she wants. Along with her turkey and cranberry sandwiches, the chef also likes to use turkey as a topping for pizza or spicy turkey chili. She is especially fond of adding her own personal touch to a classic tetrazzini.
Tetrazzini was created about 100 years ago by a now-forgotten San Francisco chef, who named it after the brilliant Italian coloratura Luisa Tetrazzini. Originally a chicken dish, it may be prepared with any poultry, or even seafood.
Certainly, where Thanksgiving turkey is the tradition, second-time-around turkey is a chance for creativity. Even a simple turkey sandwich can be memorable if made with homemade, lemony, tarragon-laced, or curried mayonnaise. Avocado, cheese, chutney, sprouts, and leftover cranberry sauce can add some color and flavor to an otherwise ho-hum sandwich. And don't forget to make that turkey stock.
When making turkey stock simply cut up the carcass, rinse the bones, and place them in a large stockpot. Add a few ribs of chopped celery, carrots, onion, a bay leaf, and one or two bouillon cubes. Fill pot with cold water and simmer for four to six hours, adding water as needed. Strain the stock. Chill and skim off fat.
Garlic soup is a staple in Spain. Usually made with chicken stock, or even just water, turkey stock will work just as easily. The following recipe is based on an award-winning garlic soup from Aigo Bistro in Concord, Mass.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 whole heads (not cloves) garlic, peeled
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 quarts turkey stock
1/2 cup blanched, skinned almonds, lightly browned in butter
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly browned in butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh, chopped Italian (flat) parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add onions and cook slowly over medium heat, stirring often, until brown and caramelized (about 1/2 hour.)
Slice garlic heads in half widthwise. Place garlic cut-side down on a well-oiled pan that has been sprinkled with salt and pepper. Roast about 20 minutes until garlic is soft and cut-side is golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool and squeeze cloves from skins, into food processor. Add onions to garlic and process until smooth (about 10 seconds) scraping down mixture when necessary. Add the cream and process additional few seconds. Pour mixture into another container.
Wipe out processor and add 1/2 cup turkey stock, almonds, and bread crumbs. Puree until very smooth (again, scrape down mixture occasionally to ensure a smooth texture.) Add onion-garlic mixture to almond-bread-crumb puree, and process for 5 seconds.
Bring remaining stock to a boil in a large pot. Whisk in processed mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle soup with parsley, and serve it with a good crusty bread that has been lightly grilled. Serves 8.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, or portobello work well)
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 cups cooked turkey meat, cubed
3/4 cup macaroni, cooked
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 cup evaporated skim milk
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups turkey stock
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute until mushrooms are soft. Discard garlic.
In a large bowl, combine turkey, macaroni, mushrooms, and peas.
In a saucepan heat evaporated milk and whisk in flour. Add turkey stock, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Sauce will thicken only sightly.) Remove from heat, add Worcestershire and stir sauce into turkey-macaroni mixture.
Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture in lightly greased shallow pan. (Brownie pan works well.) Toss bread crumbs with rosemary and almonds and sprinkle on tetrazzini. Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Serve with a tossed green salad and French bread. Serves 6 to 8.
Leftover turkey makes a great breakfast hash. Serve it with poached eggs and catsup, if you like. This hash is oven baked, but it may be cooked in a large frying pan with butter on top of the stove if you prefer. Whatever method you use, remember that hash should be cooked long and slowly to ensure a nice crusty top.
3 cups finely chopped, cooked turkey
3 cups finely chopped, cooked potatoes
1/4 cups finely chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 cup turkey gravy or stock
Tabasco sauce (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add a dash or two of Tabasco if you wish. Place hash in a large greased, covered baking dish. Bake about one-half hour, covered. Remove cover and bake an additional half hour or until top is brown and crusty. Serves 4.