Need to use up that roast turkey carcass in your freezer? Here’s what I do. Over the holidays, I would always have way too much to eat. Far too many slices of honey glazed ham and roast turkey three times over. So this light porridge is soothing food for my overworked tummy.

I roast my own turkey. It’s the only way I can be assured of moist, flavourful, succulent turkey and my recipe is pretty fail proof. I would willingly waddle off to the other end of the dining table to serve myself more turkey, if it is one that I had roasted. Yes, I am unabashedly biased when it comes to roast turkeys. It is rather good and my guests are happy to help themselves to more. If there are leftovers, there is no need to call for volunteers to take back doggie bags. Over the holidays, I made it a point to save some turkey. I had roasted 2 turkeys. So I had 2 turkey carcasses and enough slices of turkey to make 2 meals. One turkey carcass, I used to make stock and turned it into a lovely Persian-inspired rice pilaff. I had browned a lot of onions, quickly warmed through shreds of leftover turkey and then seasoned it all lightly with spices. I piled that on top of my magnificent cone-shaped pile of fluffy rice, added a final, generous sprinkling of toasted almonds, pomegranate, dried cherries and fresh coriander leaves. It was served at a dinner party for 20 and went down very well. The one remaining turkey carcass, went into making this comforting Chinese-style porridge. It is savoury, yet very easy to eat as the texture of the porridge is thin and loose. It should be nothing like a thick potage but more like a light soup made more substantial with grains of rice in it.

The recipe is kept deliberately simple with few ingredients. The turkey carcass is already so flavourful there is no need for unnecessary aromatics. After all, we want a clean uncomplicated tasting porridge. 
There is no escaping the fact that a turkey stock made from a roast turkey that was once a part of the year-end holiday spread will taste like stock made from leftover roast turkey. As much as I like my roast turkey, I really have had quite enough. So what do we do? We build on the flavour of the roast turkey stock so that you have a porridge that is delicious but taste nothing like the roast turkey you had over the holidays. How? You do not add carrots, celery, onions or the usual aromatics. Instead, you want to turn the flavours around by ‘asianising’ the stock. To do this, we add some basic ingredients used to  flavour traditional Chinese soups. Dried scallops, just a touch of dried cuttlefish(squid) and a knob of ginger. Yes, that’s it. And what if you do not have those items in the pantry? It gets easier. Use ready made clam or fish stock. Everything goes into the stock pot, no frying involved. Just top up with water, bring to boil, simmer and soon enough you have a stock ready to cook porridge. If you use a pressure cooker, everything happens so much faster too. I love my pressure cooker.

Soothing Turkey Porridge After Days Of Festing

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook: Depends on whether you are cooking it over the stove, in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. Details under ‘Method’.
Inactive: Overnight to rehydrate dried scallops and cuttlefish (optional step).
Level: Easy
Serves: ~3 – 4
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes.
Make ahead? Stock can be made and refrigerated 3 days ahead. Porridge taste best straight off the the pot but might be reheated the next day.

Ingredients

1 turkey carcass from a roast turkey
2 knobs of 1″(2.5cm) long ginger
~7 -8 cups (1.75 – 2 litres) water
1/3 cup dried scallops*
1 generous Tablespoon of shredded dried cuttlefish(squid)**
OR
Replace dried scallops and cuttlefish(squid) with ~7 -8 cups (1.75 – 2 litres) of store bought clam and/or fish stock
1 cup long grain rice
1 cup shredded turkey (leftover from a roast turkey)
OR
1 cup shredded chicken meat (cooked)***
Garnish for porridge
Diced spring/green onions
Julienned ginger
Spring Roll or Wonton Wrappers*
Pepper, salt and/or soy sauce to taste
*Look for dried scallops and cuttlefish(squid) in Asian grocery stores or in the dried food section of supermarket shelves. I prefer using Japanese baby scallops with the ‘scallop skirts’ still attached as I find them tastier and sweeter.
** Do not use more as dried cuttlefish (squid) has an intense flavour. Too much of it and instead of imparting the depth of flavour that you want in soups/stock, it turns it bitter. Besides being sold cut into thin strips (refer to image of ingredients below) it is also sold whole (with body cavity and tentacles attached) rolled into flatten sheets.
*** I like to poach chicken breast but for ease, use store bought ready-roasted chicken.
* Cut into strips and fried crisp. Scroll down to ‘Tips’ for suggestions to use up the rest of the wrappers. 

Method

1. Rinse the dried scallops and cuttlefish before using. Ideally, rehydrate them overnight in 1/2 cup of water. It helps to draw out maximum flavour from them and hence speeds up the stock making process. Use the soaking liquid as well to make stock.
2. You can choose to either prepare the stock (1) over the stove (2) in a pressure cooker (3) in a slow cooker overnight.
3. In a large pot/pressure cooker/slow cooker, add the dried scallops, dried shredded cuttlefish, soaking liquid, one 1″ (2.5 cm) knob of ginger and the turkey carcass.
4. Fill with water until it reaches almost 2/3 way up the turkey carcass. I usually add between ~7 -8 cups (1.75  – 2 litres) of water. Cover the pot.

(1) To cook over the stove
3. Bring to boil on high heat, remove pot cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours or until you think the flavour from the turkey carcass has been cooked out. You might have to top with more water but I never have had to.
4. To get maximum flavour, before straining the stock, use a potato masher to mash up whatever is in the stock pot. Strain and set aside. Discard solids.

(2) To cook in a pressure cooker
1. Pressure cook on high heat. Once the cooker whistles, reduce heat to medium and continue to pressure cook for 45 minutes. Please bear in mind that pressure cookers differ considerably so time your pressure cooker accordingly and adjust the amount of water you need to add into your pressure cooker. At the end of the cooking process, you want to have cooked the flavour out from the turkey carcass into the stock.
2. To get maximum flavour, before straining the stock, use a potato masher to mash up whatever is in the stock pot. Strain set aside. Discard solids.

(3) To cook in a slow cooker
1. Leave to cook overnight or until you think the flavour from the turkey carcass has been cooked out. To get maximum flavour, before straining the stock, use a potato masher to mash up whatever is in the stock pot. Strain set aside. Discard solids.

Cooking the rice porridge
1. In a large pot, add the rice, one 1″ (2.5 cm) knob of ginger and the prepared stock. You should have slightly over 1.5 litres of stock.
2. Cover the pot and bring to boil on high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low, leave the pot partially covered.
3. Stir gently occasionally to prevent rice sticking to pot. Do not over stir as you want to keep the rice grains intact. Check that there is always enough stock in the pot. Top up with hot water if required.
4. The porridge is ready when you can see that the rice grains have bloomed. They still hold their shape but are soft. Refer to feature image above.
5. Turn off the burner and stir in the cooked shredded meat. If you cook the porridge beyond this stage, the rice will start to break apart and thicken. Nothing wrong with that. It will just be a different form of porridge – the consistency would be similar to porridge that is served at Dim Sum restaurants. It is often referred to as not porridge but congee. You can hardly spot the rice grains in Dim Sum style congee.

To serve
1. Have ready the garnish ingredients.
2. The porridge should be served loose and thin as it is meant to be light and nourishing after days of overeating. So it’s not meant to be served like a thick congee or a potage. If you like it thick however, do go ahead and eat it as you wish.
3. To serve it as I do, you might have to thin out the porridge with a little water and re-season. Scoop porridge into bowls and top with spring/green onions, fried strips of spring roll/wonton wrappers, julienned ginger and cracked pepper. It has to be served piping hot.

Tips

What to do with the rest of the spring roll or wonton wrappers?

For something sweet
1. Cut the wrappers into large strips and fry them all up until golden brown.
Drain them on wire racks or kitchen paper towels. When they have cooled down, sprinkle with icing sugar and perhaps a pinch of cinnamon for a sweet treat.

For something savoury
1. Leave the wonton wrappers uncut as they are rather small in size to begin with. Larger spring roll wrappers should be cut fairly large (the size of your palm).
2. Fry until golden brown. Drain.
3. Whilst still hot, season with pepper/chilli powder and a little cumin and salt. Really, just dig into your pantry and seasoned with whatever flavours/herbs/spices in combinations that you know will work to make a nice scrumptious snack.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

Green tea biscuits with citrusy yuzu peel.






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