Thanksgiving Leftovers, Chinese Style
We always buy a big turkey for Thanksgiving, the better to have leftovers for ourselves and our guests. As soon as the feast is done, out come the baggies and plastic containers so we can apportion the food and get them back in the fridge to chill (for food safety’s sake) until guests depart.
I separate the nice turkey slices first. Then I bag the smaller chunks. And finally, I wrap the carcass in plastic wrap.
The next day, we’ll have sliced turkey breast on split baguettes spread with cranberry sauce for lunch. For dinner, we like hot turkey sandwiches served open-faced, drizzled with leftover gravy and stuffing on the side.
Another day, it’ll be turkey salad with the chunks of turkey, diced apple, a handful of raisins and toasted pecans, mixed with mayonnaise, curry powder and mango chutney.
And finally, I’ll make jook with the carcass. In my family, we always made turkey chowder with the bones. But when I married Steve, my Chinese-American mother-in-law taught me to make jook. This delicious rice gruel is enlivened by fresh greens – shredded iceberg lettuce, green onion and cilantro added at the table. The combination of the warm and creamy jook with the cold and crunchy mix-ins offers an inspired contrast of flavor and texture. Add a drizzle of soy sauce to finish.
Popo never measured, of course, so this is just an approximation of her jook. I know there are all kinds of toppings you can add, such as boiled peanuts and preserved cabbage. but popo (once we had kids, we all called her by the Chinese name for grandmother) kept it simple, and that’s how I still like it today.
Popo’s Turkey Jook
1 turkey carcass
Salt, to taste
1 cup short-grain rice, washed and drained
Chopped green onion
Shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce
Put turkey carcass in a deep pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil; turn heat low and simmer 2 hours. Remove carcass from broth and set carcass aside. Strain broth.
Measure 8 cups of broth into a pot. If you don’t have enough liquid, add water or canned chicken broth to make up the difference. Season broth with salt.
Add the rice and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour or until the rice grains break up and amalgamate into a creamy whole. Stir more frequently as the jook thickens, to prevent burning. Meanwhile, pick the meat from the carcass and shred into bite-size pieces. Add the meat pieces the last 15 minutes of cooking. The jook should be of porridge consistency. If too thick, add more chicken broth or water, stir and heat through.
Serve in bowls and pass the green onion, cilantro and soy sauce to add to the jook to suit your taste.
Makes 4-6 main dish servings