Thanksgiving is the start of many delicious dishes

Entertaining

Entertaining: After the feast, creamed turkey and two rices call up yummy memories.

November 18, 2001|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

Although I enjoy preparing the feast for our family on Thanksgiving Day, I confess that I look forward even more to the dishes made with the leftovers. These creations are less time-consuming to prepare because some of the ingredients are already cooked. Like many people, I buy a large bird so that there will be plenty of turkey remaining for the days after the holiday. And I make twice as much dressing and cranberry sauce as we need for the same reason.

Turkey sandwiches are a staple at our house after the big Thursday. My son and daughter-in-law like to ladle piping hot gravy over mounds of meat atop toasted bread, but my husband prefers a Dagwood-style turkey club. In addition to these all-American sandwiches, I have tried many other recipes for the leftover cache. For instance, I have sampled turkey potpies; turkey wraps filled with sliced turkey, cranberry sauce and crispy watercress; as well as turkey and Brie quesadillas.

Childhood memories recently provided me inspiration. Remembrances of my mother's delectable creamed turkey and vegetables motivated me to work on my own version. I made a rich white sauce, then seasoned it with freshly grated nutmeg, cayenne pepper and grated Parmesan cheese. Finally, I stirred in sauteed leeks, fennel and carrots along with diced turkey. Served over a combination of wild and white rice and offered with cranberry sauce and some warm, crusty bread or rolls, this entree could become the centerpiece for a delicious holiday weekend menu.

You can serve this main course plated for a small group or, if increasing the recipe, offer it buffet-style with the creamed turkey in a chafing dish and the rice in a separate bowl. Either way, I think you'll like this leftover as much as the original.

Betty Rosbottom writes for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

Creamed Turkey and Fall Vegetables Over Wild Rice

Makes 6 servings

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 / 4 cup chopped leeks, white parts only

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch dice

3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch dice

1 large fennel bulb, stalk cut off and bulb halved, cored and chopped

salt

3 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock

1/2 cup grated imported Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 / 4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

A teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 cups cooked 1/2 -inch cubed turkey

1 1/2 cups wild rice

1 cup long-grain rice

1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add leeks, carrots, parsnips and fennel and cook, stirring, until softened, about 15 minutes. Season vegetables generously with salt. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons butter in same pan over medium heat until hot, then add flour and stir constantly 1 minute. Do not let flour brown. Lower heat if necessary. Pour in half-and-half and stock and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and coats back of spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in cheese, 3 / 4 teaspoon salt, cayenne and nutmeg.

Return vegetables to sauce along with turkey. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. You may need more salt depending on whether stock was salted or not. (Creamed turkey and vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, preferably in large, shallow skillet, stirring, over low heat.)

Cook each rice separately according to package directions. Drain and toss together, seasoning with salt as needed (see note).

To serve, ladle mound of rice on each of six dinner plates. Stir half of the parsley into creamed turkey mixture, then ladle sauce over rice. Sprinkle each serving with some of the remaining parsley.

Note: If you buy wild rice in bulk and do not have cooking directions, cook this way: Add the 1 1/2 cups wild rice to 3 quarts boiling salted water and cook 30 to 35 minutes. Rice will double in size and still be somewhat crunchy when done. Remove and drain in a strainer.

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