On the fifth day of Thanksgiving, bring the turkey stock that wouldn’t fit into the ice cube tray to a simmer. Pick the bread out of your leftover stuffing and add what remains to the pot (cremini mushrooms, Italian sausage, fennel and leeks in this case). Add a few sliced carrots. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Roughly chop and add the remaining turkey meat. Add a big bunch of swiss chard. Proceed to eat this for the next three days, noting that you really just kicked the leftover can a little further down the road. But hey, at least you worked a little fiber into the equation.
Seven adults, an almost three-year-old, an almost two-year-old, and a baby born just six days ago are descending on my 600-square-foot apartment this afternoon. I spent the past week gathering ingredients from far and wide. I take a certain amount of pride in noting that nothing on today’s Thanksgiving table was sourced from a large grocery chain. I take a little less pride in the fact that I bought cheese in three different stores because I failed to actually make any sort of shopping list.
Our 17-pound turkey hails from Vermont and was procured through my CSA. It has been soaking up its dry brine since Tuesday night.
Last night was time for more prep work. I transformed a loaf of bread into rustic croutons. I made a slow-simmered turkey stock using the neck and a few other odds and ends, along with a little pancetta. I baked sweet and spicy candied pecans. I cooked up a batch of cranberry, apple and caramelized onion chutney. I did my best to tidy up the apartment.
Over the years, I have developed a system for helping myself stay on track when preparing an elaborate meal. Today’s game plan will continue to evolve throughout the day, but this is the general direction.
I inexplicably awoke at 7:00am, leaving me with more time than anticipated. It was too early to pull the bird out of the fridge. And, until I remove the bird, there’s pretty much no room for anything else I manage to prep ahead of schedule.
I pondered this dilemma over a cup of coffee until I remembered that turkey liver I had shoved in a bowl and stuck next to the mushrooms for the ciabatta, sausage, fennel and cremini stuffing. Suddenly I had a vision of the amazing chopped liver made by Maison David’s Michel Kailfa that I had the chance to sample during June’s study trip to Paris. Frenchmen don’t get much more charming that Michel. And chopped liver doesn’t get tastier than his.
But I would do my best.
Chopped Turkey Liver with Cremini Mushrooms
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 turkey liver
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves stripped
- 1 small pinch red pepper flakes
- 4 cremini mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons madeira
- 1 small handful flat leaf Italian parsley
- salt and pepper
- Bring half the oil up to medium heat in a small pan. Add the liver and sear, rotating as it browns, for approximately five minutes.) You’re aiming for something like a medium-rare steak.) Remove the liver to a small bowl and add the rest of the oil.
- Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until they are nicely browned and limp. (I have a hunch that Michel takes his onions past this point, which may make all the difference.) Add the mushrooms, thyme leaves and red pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently. The mushrooms will soak up the remaining fat and then gradually release liquid. Once they have done so, add the madeira and cook stirring continuously and scraping the bottom of the pan until mostly evaporated.
- Dump the liver, onions and mushrooms, and parsley into the small bowl of your food processor and purée for a few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Liver is packed full of good nutrients, including iron–which is good for those of us that tend towards the anemic. A smear of this on a cracker is a great way to get your strength up for a long day of cooking.
I am still working my way through the last of this season’s CSA share. Olive oil, habanero powder, salt and pepper are the only things in this dairy-free bisque that didn’t come directly from Windflower Farm or a nearby meat purveyor. This came out crazy tasty, which is a good thing since I will be eating it all week.
Sweet Potato Turkey Bisque with Collards
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large red onion
- 4-6 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon habanero powder (cayenne would also work)
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- six cups chicken stock (I used eight cubes of my frozen concentrated stock plus a couple of cups of water.)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 bunch collard greens
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into large hunks of roughly the same size. Place on a cookie sheet and mix with 2 tablespoons olive oil plus some salt and pepper. Pop these in the oven and cook until soft and starting to brown, approximately 15 minutes.
- Bring two tablespoons of olive oil up to medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Chop the onion, add to the pot and sauté until soft. Press and add the garlic along with the habanero powder, adding more if you like things really spicy. (I used a heaping teaspoon and mine came out pretty damn hot.) Stir constantly for one minute. Then add the ground turkey. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all pink is gone. Season with salt and pepper.
- Puree the sweet potatoes, using water as needed to loosen the mixture. Add the purée plus the chicken stock, water and apple cider to your turkey mixture and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Strip the stems from your collards, roll them like a cigar and thinly slice into strips. Add these to the pot and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
This recipe was inspired by caldo verde, a traditional Portuguese soup of kale and potatoes garnished with spicy sausage. While caldo verde is usually served for celebrations, I was able to whip this up in under an hour with ingredients I had on hand, making it a fine midweek supper. The ingredients are simple and the recipe is straightforward, but the resulting dish is delightfully complex.
Kale, Sausage & Potato Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces fresh spicy sausage (I used some loose hot Italian turkey sausage from Di Paola Turkey Farms, which sells its wares at greenmarkets throughout New York City, but whatever you’ve got in the freezer is cool.)
- 2 leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
- 2 bunches kale, thinly sliced (I used lacinato, but pretty much any kind of kale or collards would work.)
- 2 cups chicken broth (I used about six cubes of frozen contracted stock.)
- six small yellow potatoes, halved and cut into quarter-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon hot paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring the oil up to medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add your sausage and stir until cooked through. Add the leeks and garlic and cook until limp. Stir in the herbes de provence and red pepper flakes.
- Add the kale in batches, stirring until there is room for more. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and enough water to cover. Stir in the paprika, a generous amount of fresh black pepper, and salt if needed
- Let simmer until the potatoes are tender, approximately 30 minutes.