*** Full disclosure: I wrote this Monday but forgot to hit publish. Oops!
For part of our July 4th/freezer clearing meal, I defrosted a 20 pound turkey bought for 88 cents a pound around Thanksgiving. Son2 volunteered to smoke it along with about 15 pounds of pork butt. I will post his method of smoking it (Best.Turkey.Ever) in another post when I feel like writing all the steps toward deliciousness but right now I am writing about tonight's turkey repeat performance.
Most of the leftover bird was packed in freezer bags in serving sizes large enough for one meal for 4. We rarely have 4 to eat here, but I will have lunches with whatever is leftover. When I oven roast a turkey, after I have sliced the bird, I pick all the bits and pieces from the carcass and usually have about a cup+ of small bits and pieces of turkey along with the pan drippings for soup. I did the same with the smoked turkey pieces, but it only took me one time before to boil a smoked turkey carcass for soup to learn it does NOT make a tasty broth for a soup base. This time I simply put the scrappy bits and juices that dripped from the bird while carving into a container and stuck them in the fridge waiting for inspiration or desperation to strike.
Tonight brought a desperate attempt to create something for dinner that required only the paltry ingredients I had on hand. (turkey, 4 carrots, 2 small onions, 3 ribs of celery, 1 can of green beans, about 1 1/2 cup dried pasta)
One Pan Turkey Meal
1 cup bits and pieces of turkey picked from the turkey carcass plus any pan drippings or juices
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 small onions, coarsely chopped
3 ribs of celery in thick slices
1 can of undrained green beans
1 1/2 cup pasta (I used ditalini because I had some in the pantry, but anything will do)
2 cups water (add additional as needed to cook the pasta, but only as much as can be absorbed by the
finished pasta. I had to add a few tablespoons more )
3 ounces cream cheese (an afterthought that really worked)
Put the carrots, onions, celery and green beans plus can liquid in a large sauce pan and cook until the onions start to wilt. Add the turkey and water bring to a boil and add the pasta. Cover with a lid until the pasta is al dente. (Add more water if needed.) At this point I tasted it and thought it was a little flat. I had no cream or sour cream but remembered I had a block of cream cheese in the fridge, so that became my cream element. Stir in the cream cheese, let it melt and blend it well then serve in individual bowls. Add a grind of fresh black pepper and a sprinkle of fresh chives or parsley. I think some fresh parmesan cheese would have been a good topper also but I didn't think of it until after we had eaten. I served it with some delicious sliced produce stand tomatoes and called it a meal. Truly nothing else was needed.
This was a really good way to use those little odd shaped bit and pieces. We ate as much as we wanted and still have another meal of leftover leftovers. We all thought it was surprisingly good, simple and cheap. I will file this away to use whenever I have that cup or so of odd little turkey pieces.
Try it, you might like it, but it makes a lot, so be prepared to eat leftover leftovers too!