By Patrick Stuart [email protected]
The carcass of the Christmas turkey packs more flavour than pretty much any other part of the bird but is often discarded. After picking off the uneaten meat to be used for sandwiches, curries or whatever else you decide to do, the carcass for me is the final treat.
It provides the opportunity to make a large volume of very tasty “brown” stock for heart-warming soups, rice dishes or a very tasty lentil curry. Then, of course, we need to freeze some small tupperware tubs of the stock for future sauces and gravies. The possibilities are endless and to throw out a carcass before making a stock is nothing short of gastronomic crime.
Anyone not used to making their own stock should just follow these simple instructions: break the carcass and bones up into pieces that are small enough to fit into your largest cooking pot, leave on small bits of meat and any leftover skin and add to the pot any remaining vegetable from the table, along with a couple of roughly-chopped fresh leeks and sticks of celery if you have them.
Cover with water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for around 40 minutes, skimming any scum from the top during the process. Strain the liquid through a sieve, leave to cool and then skim off any fat that has formed on the surface. That’s it – you have a delicious stock and here are a few ideas:
Heat some stock in a pan with one or two whole star anise. Add soya sauce, a little at a time until it reaches your desired level of saltiness. Finish with a dash of ginger made by squeezing fresh ginger in a garlic press.
The star anise and ginger give a lovely Christmassy taste to this very simple and authentic Chinese soup. To add some consistence and make a light meal, shred up some cold turkey meat and/or noodles and cook until the noodles are tender. Garnish (optional) with chopped chives of spring onions.
Nothing Christmassy about this but it will make a mean curry. Fry up some chopped onion, garlic and fresh ginger in butter and once the onions are soft add your curry spices and chilli as desired. Stir in (red) lentils and cover with turkey stock (around 1/3 more than the volume of lentils).
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently until the lentils are fully cooked and tender. Personally, I like them slightly overcooked and almost mushy, but others prefer them still with a slight bite. To finish, garnish with fresh coriander. Once again, cold turkey meat can be added to the curry during cooking if desired.
Portuguese mock duck rice
The delicious Portuguese duck rice, usually made from cooking rice in duck stock, works just as well with turkey and especially well if you have a great and deeply flavoured stock from your Christmas roast.
Cook rice until just tender in turkey stock. Soften some sliced onions and garlic in olive oil with a bay leaf or two, then add slices of chouriço sausage and morçela sausage (like black pudding and found in all local supermarkets) and some cold turkey meat. Combine the cooked rice with the mixture, season with salt and black pepper to taste then transfer to a baking tin or casserole. Baste the top with beaten egg and roast at 180ºC for around 20 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden. If desired, garnish with slices of fried chouriço and thickly-sliced bacon.