It’s Turkey Time

I’ve already cooked the first of the season. Huh? No, I’m not nuts, I have good reasons. First, this time of year turkeys are increadably inexpensive. I bought one for 79 cents a pound. But to me, the main advantage of cooking an early turkey is that I have plenty of turkey broth when it comes time for the main event, Thanksgiving. When I prepare a turkey dinner, I do not care to use chicken broth in my gravy or sides. It’s just not right! So, I buy an inexpensive bird ahead of time, roast it and make a big pot of broth to use in all my Thanksgiving recipes. An extra benefit is that I am able to quality check the store brand bird. I’m not talking about some off-brand, but I have found that if a grocery store is willing to put their name on the label, that turkey is likely to be just as good as the big national brand. So…here we go.
I actually started on the turkey trail a day ahead of time by preparing the Brine for my Brined Roast Turkey with Giblet Gravy . Brining your turkey is an extra step, but well worth the effort. Not only is the turkey more moist and flavorful, but you can be assured that the turkey is truly thawed all the way through.  I also simmered the neck, tail, and giblets, minus the liver, for a little foundation broth. Then Sunday we had our first roast turkey of the season.
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Meatless Monday was simply some Fresh Tomato, Spinach, and Tortellini Soup. Using a base of Fresh Tomato Soup from the freezer made dinner no work at all. Instead, I used my time to take care of that leftover turkey.  The first order of business was to use the turkey carcass to make a big pot of broth. It’s really just the same recipe as my Rich Chicken Stock, but in larger quantities.  I always chill the pot of broth overnight so it is easy to skim off the hardened layer of fat that comes to the surface.  (If you want to, you can freeze a few tablespoons of fat for future turkey gravies.)
Tuesday, while the broth was chilling, we made a day trip to Ragtime Cafe in Hoover, Alabama. That’s just south of Birmingham, about a 2 1/2 hour drive in this beautiful fall weather. I always enjoy their fried oysters and a spinach salad, and Michael likes the tenderloin sandwich. It was a nice drive and good food.  Happy Birthday to me!
On Wednesday was time to get back in the kitchen and deal with the turkey leftovers. Normally, I would have gotten ahead of the game and prepared some of the Thanksgiving side dishes for the freezer, but I’m not doing all the cooking again this year. Whew! What luck! Besides just having Sunday’s leftovers for dinner, I split the leftover turkey and broth into several meals.
Cornbread Dressing paired with some of the gravy to create Thanksgiving Pot Pies. Thanksgiving Turkey Salad is always a good use of some of the breast meat. The dark meat scraps were enough to make a batch of dog food for our spoiled two girls. Bella and Lizzie’s Chicken and Brown Rice with Veggies works just as well with turkey, and makes several special meals for them. It only took one more cup of dark meat to dehydrate a batch of Dog Treats.  I think my favorite recipe for turkey leftovers and broth is my Turkey Poblano Chowder. Besides being delicious, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. I’ll freeze enough to last all winter for the two of us.
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You would think that after all that turkey we would be tired of poultry  Well, Chicken Fajitas are chicken, not turkey, and they don’t belong to Thanksgiving, they’re Mexican (sort of).  That’s what I was in the mood for, so that’s what we had on Thursday. The planned Freezer Food, Two Sauce Lasagna can just stay in the freezer a little longer.
Friday’s sheduled Shrimp Quesadillas can stay on hold as well. I decided to take advantage of that turkey chowder one more night before packaging it for the freezer. When you’re cooking for two the freezer is just about your best friend!
Be thankful for what life gives you.

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