Food for Thought – Turn Leftover Turkey into a Savory Stew

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by Linda Viertel

Thanksgiving feasts are culinary delights that keep giving long after the fourth Thursday in November. And, I am talking about leftovers. Debates rage between those who love the Thanksgiving meal most; others love nibbling on turkey bones and heating up everything from the day before for Thanksgiving meal number two. If energy for kitchen activity still persists, concoct a turkey a la king for the next night’s dinner, or cook some pasta and cream sauce, throw in the cooked peas, and creamed onions, with a bit of dressing — Voila! Turkey tetrazzini.

For lunch, you may want to pile sliced turkey unto a baguette, slathered with Russian dressing, a few thin slices of cheddar or fontina cheese, some cranberry sauce and, yes, even some dressing, and you will have one helluva sandwich on Friday, November 25th. That is, if you have room after consuming a piece or two of pecan, pumpkin or apple pie with coffee for breakfast.

Marcie Cuff, The Hudson Independent’s expert on the natural world and all things sustainable, and I are coordinating our November columns on leftovers. So, please be sure to reference her “Zero Waste Thanksgiving” article below. You won’t want to miss her take on morning, midday and, evening meals plus snacks and “sweet stuff” the day after Thanksgiving.

Here’s my offering: an unusual, hearty, and comforting way to be sustainable – making use of those leftover turkey bones and turkey meats (both white and dark). It’s Turkey Posole, a traditional savory Mexican hominy (hulled corn kernels) stew usually made with pork. But before you begin, it is well worth the small effort to make or augment your own broth for a richer, silkier and more flavorful soup base. This is true for any soup, in fact. You can buy turkey or chicken stock – and purchasing a higher quality brand helps – but taking the time to let it simmer with the turkey carcass/bones, chopped onion, carrots, celery, parsley and a few pepper corns, then strain, will make all the difference.


Turkey Posole

Carcass/bones from one 13-pound+ turkey
1 medium onion, quartered
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 tomatoes diced
1 bag frozen hominy
(or two 15 ounce cans hominy, strained)
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 large jalapeno
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

For serving: Avocado chunks, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, tomatoes and scallions and warm corn tortillas.

In a large stockpot, cover the turkey carcass/bones, chopped onion, carrot, celery, parsely and bay leaf with 12 cups (or more) of water or broth, and bring to a moderately high heat. Simmer the turkey stock over moderate heat until the broth is flavorful – about 2 hours. Strain through a coarse sieve into a large heatproof bowl.
Return the broth to the stockpot. Add frozen hominy (or canned), tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno and cook over moderately high heat until the broth is reduced to 6 cups. Add the shredded turkey meat and chopped cilantro and simmer until the stew is heated through. Season the posole with salt, ladle into deep bowls and serve with avocado chunks, shredded Montery Jack cheese, and fresh chopped, cilantro, tomatoes and scallions if desired. Warm tortillas are the perfect accompaniment.

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