Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Pozole

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the media is full of military-style plans for tackling the big meal, but I feel that the real need is for a strategy to manage the leftovers. I'm game for one repeat of the turkey and trimmings, and there's nothing better than a turkey and cranberry relish sandwich picnic on an unexpectedly sunny post-holiday weekend, but after that I want a respite from all the rich and bland food. Turkey pozole is one approach to finishing off the bird with a meal full of spice and crunch.

We've joined Open Oak Farm's winter CSA, so we had plenty of fresh vegetables for a flavorful turkey broth, including carrots, onions, and kale and chard stalks that I simmered with the turkey remains.

For a spicy base, I used an easy recipe for Smoky Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday. You sear halved tomatillos and garlic cloves and then blend them together with a chipotle pepper in adobe sauce (a tip on storing chipotle peppers: when you open a can, lay out the individual peppers with dollops of sauce onto a saran wrap covered cookie sheet, freeze them, and store them in a freezer bag for individual use). 

In a big soup pot, I combined this salsa with a couple of cans of cooked hominy, a diced roasted poblano pepper, and the strained turkey stock. The resulting soup made a fiery backdrop for lots of tasty toppings. Because I was feeling a little tired of turkey, I kept this on the side, to be added at one's discretion, along with strips of fried corn tortillas, sour cream, radishes, avocado cubes, cilantro, and plenty of fresh escarole from Open Oak Farm. A virtue of this soup is that it makes for excellent leftovers (not that you need any), since the broth improves in flavor and you add fresh toppings every time.

Turkey Pozole

Turkey stock
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
stalks from greens such as kale or chard, chopped
carcass of one roast turkey (meat removed)
6 sprigs fresh oregano
about 12 cups water
salt to taste

Chipotle salsa
1 pound tomatillos
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 chipotle chili in adobe sauce
salt to taste

2 15 ounce cans hominy, drained and rinsed (or cook your own from dried hominy)
chipotle salsa (above)
about 8 cups turkey stock (above)
1 poblano pepper (optional)

shredded roast turkey
corn tortillas, fried and sliced
sour cream
slice escarole or cabbage
sliced radishes
cubed avocado
cilantro leaves

1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until glassy, Add the carrots, celery, and green stalks and continue cooking until soft. Add the turkey bones and fill the pot with water. Add fresh oregano and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for about an hour. Adjust seasoning. Cool and strain. You can make this a day ahead, refrigerate the stock, and then degrease by removing the hardened fat from the surface.

2. Remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse and halve. Heat a large skillet, add a thin layer of canola oil, and place the tomatillos cut side down along with the garlic cloves. Cook until the tomatillos are charred, then flip and cook a few more minutes until they are soft throughout. Cook the garlic cloves until they are soft and slightly charred. Scoop everything into a blender jar and add a chipotle pepper and generous pinch of salt. Blend into a smooth salsa.

3. Sear the poblano pepper over a flame until the skin is charred. Put in a bowl and cover with a plate so that the skin buckles off. When it is cool enough to handle, scrape off the charred skin, deseed, and cut into a 1/4 inch dice.

4. Heat a large soup pot, add the salsa and the rinsed hominy and cook for a few minutes. Add the diced poblano pepper and about 8 cups of the turkey stock. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

5. Serve warm in shallow soup bowls with the assorted toppings.

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