Monday, December 1, 2014

Leftover Hack #1: Turkey in Indian-inspired Cream Sauce

Here's a completely different way to go about turkey leftovers:

Here in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October, so I've had leftover turkey in my freezer for almost two months now. I'm way ahead of you on coming up with creative ways to use it!

Happen to have one of these lying around your house?

But for you Americans, it's the Monday post-Thanksgiving. At this point, I'm guessing you've worked your way through turkey with trimmings, turkey and gravy on toast, turkey sandwiches, and now you're saying, "I've really got to turn that thing into soup." But you're also getting pretty sick of turkey, and wondering if it would really be so horrible of you to just toss the dwindling carcass in the trash.

Before you turn to the soup pot (or the trash can -- egads, think of your karma!!!) try this easy and delicious twist on a traditional Indian chicken dish! The ginger and cilantro flavours are so fresh and bright, you might even forget you're still eating Thanksgiving turkey! (And if you're Canadian and don't have your leftover Thanksgiving turkey anymore, go ahead and make this with chicken.) If you have most of these ingredients on hand, this is fast enough to whip up after work. Serve with naan (a great, quick recipe is included below) or over rice. A curried lentil soup and greens-with-citrus salad would make good accompaniments for a more elaborate meal.

Turkey in Indian-inspired Cream Sauce

1 1/2 to 2 cups turkey pieces

1/2 cup walnuts, cashews, or pecans
1/2 cup hot water
2 tsps sesame seeds or tahini (nut allergies? omit the nuts and increase tahini/sesame seeds to 3 T)

1 T olive oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 T ground coriander 
1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom or seeds from 10 green cardamom pods
2 large garlic cloves
3 scallions, including the green leaves, coarsely chopped
6 quarter-size slices of peeled fresh ginger
1 or 2 fresh jalapeƱos or green Serrano peppers, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (If you don't have plain yogurt, use sour cream thinned with a bit of milk. Dairy allergy? Substitute coconut milk and add the juice and zest of 1 lime to this portion of the recipe for some tartness and acidity.)

- Shave off your turkey pieces and set aside

- Combine the 1/2 cup nuts with 1/2 cup hot water. If you are using sesame seeds instead of tahini, add them to the water/walnut mixture. Set aside to soak.

If you plan on serving this dish with naan now is a good time to mix the dough and set aside so it has a little time to rise and develop elasticity. Scroll down for an easy and delicious naan recipe. If serving with rice, get the rice cooking now.

- Heat oil in a frying pan our sauce pan. While oil is heating, measure out the spices (cumin seeds thru salt) in a small bowl. When the oil is hot (but not smoking!!!) toss in the spices and toast, stirring constantly for 30 seconds to 1 minute, being very careful not to let the spices burn. Add the turkey pieces, toss until coated, and then remove from pan and set aside.

- Combine all remaining ingredients (cardamom through yogurt) in a blender. Pulse a few times. Remember those nuts sitting in water? Toss those into the blender, too. Blend until smooth.

- Pour the liquified mixture into the sauce pan that was used for spices. Heat on medium/medium-low heat until gently simmering. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, then add the turkey mixture. Cover and turn heat to lowest setting.

If serving with naan, turn your attention to rolling and broiling the bread. Serve as soon as the naan or rice are ready. If the sauce is too thick, thin with a little milk, cream, or more yogurt.

Easy Naan Recipe

1 packet or 2 tsps active dry yeast
1 T honey or sugar
1/4 cup warm water (if it's very warm, but not uncomfortable, to the touch, it's a good temperature)
2 to 3 T canola, sunflower, or olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose or whole wheat flour (if using whole wheat, you will likely need more flour)

- Combine yeast, water, and honey, and let sit for a few minutes for yeast to dissolve. Add in the other ingredients. Stir and then knead until flour is incorporated. If dough is very wet and sticky, add a bit more flour. Pour a little oil in a clean bowl. Place dough in oiled bowl, and turn so all sides are coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or damp towel and set aside in a warm location ideally for 30 minutes or more.

- When ready to cook the naan, turn broiler on high. Grease a large cookie sheet with butter. Lightly flour a clean, flat surface. Pinch off a small ball of dough, and roll out very thin with a rolling pin. If the dough is sticking, add a little more flour.

- Place rolled out dough on cookie sheet. You should be able to cook about three at a time. Place under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes on first side. Dough should be puffing up and starting to turn golden. Flip and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute until other side is starting to brown. Be attentive as your naan is cooking or it will definitely burn.

- Don't cook your naan to crispy. Although golden, it should still be soft and floppy. Wrap cooked naan in aluminium foil until all are cooked. Serve warm.

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