Making risotto with the remains of the holiday bird is tradition in our family. Thanksgiving or Christmas, turkey or goose. No matter. One decent risotto polishes off all the goose leftovers, but turkeys tend to be a bit more generous, with enough leftovers for sandwiches and a risotto, like this week’s Turkey Risotto with Saffron and Preserved Lemon, and maybe even a soup (e.g. Turkey Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Rice Stick Noodles).
For the last half dozen years we’ve had Thanksgiving dinner at Rialto. Jody has to work, so rather than postpone the feast until she gets home, we simply eat late in the service, when she can sit down with everybody else. But while our kids have acquiesced in eating at their mom’s restaurant, they’ve drawn the line in two areas–they want pumpkin pie made in our kitchen (no pumpkin mousse, ice cream or sabayon) when they get home and, like all of their friends, they want leftovers. We oblige. Sometime we’ll even bring home a turkey carcass in order to make our own stock.
You can easily make stock using a chicken, turkey or goose carcass. After dinner, put the carcass (all stuffing removed) in a large pot with a couple of carrots, some celery, an onion, a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns, a bay leaf and, if one is available, a bundle of thyme sprigs fastened with twine. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a bare simmer. If you think of it, skim off any scum that forms on the surface. The stock will be done before everyone goes to bed, assuming everyone perseveres against a tryptophan induced haze for at least three hours after eating. We set the pot of stock, safely covered, outside to cool. The next morning we skim off the fat (we give away goose fat to friends for Christmas). If you’re just hanging out this morning, instead of storming the gates of Target, you can easily start a stock after breakfast and it will be ready a little after lunch – 3 hours is usually enough time.
If you don’t have preserved lemons on hand, then one of your New Year’s resolutions should be to make your own, otherwise buy them inexpensively at Whole Foods. If you’re too busy with Black Friday to even consider food shopping, substitute a bit of grated lemon for the preserved lemon. In either event, be grateful. Enjoy. Ken
Turkey Risotto with Saffron
and Preserved Lemon
- 6 cups homemade turkey or chicken stock (or high-quality low-sodium canned chicken broth)
- ½ teaspoon saffron
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped into ¼-inch dice
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1½ cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ pound cooked turkey meat, preferably dark meat, trimmed of skin and fat, coarsely chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon skin
- ½-1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper (see the note with the harissa below)
- 1 cup freshly grated hard sheep’s milk cheese
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley with a few celery leaves
- 1 tablespoon mild harissa–be careful as harissa is often very spicy. Reduce the quantity if you can only find regular harissa and reduce or eliminate the hot red pepper flakes.
- Heat the stock to simmer and keep warm while making the risotto.
- Crumble the saffron into a small bowl and pour ½ cup warm stock over it.
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a risotto pan or a large, deep-sided saucepan over medium heat. It’s important to use a pan with a heavy bottom that conducts heat evenly, otherwise the rice will burn when you’re cooking the risotto. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until it just becomes fragrant, only a minute or two. Stir in the coriander.
- Add the rice and cook 3 minutes, stirring so the fat coats all the rice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until most of it has been absorbed. Begin adding the stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently, making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. If you find that the stock is absorbed instantly, or you have to stir violently to prevent the rice from sticking and burning, then lower the heat. Wait until most of the stock has been absorbed before adding the next half-cup.
- Continue adding the stock ½ cup at a time. After 20 minutes, add the turkey meat and the preserved lemon. If you’re using hot red pepper flakes, add them now. Continue to add stock and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Stop adding stock when the rice is creamy and tender, but there’s still a slight amount of resistance as you bite into it. Don’t worry if there’s still stock left—you may not have to use it all. The total cooking time for the rice is about 30 minutes.
- As soon as the rice is finished stir in the saffron stock, ½ cup of the cheese, herbs and harissa. Season with salt and pepper. The texture should be creamy and slightly runny. Add ¼ cup stock or water (if you’ve run out of stock) just before serving. Spoon into warmed large shallow bowls or use warmed plates. Serve immediately, offering the remaining cheese on the side.
This is a garlic shoot, from the center of a garlic clove. We’re about to enter winter garlic season. Always remove the shoot from the center of the clove. If you include it with the rest of the chopped garlic it will add a bitter flavor.
Full disclosure: making risotto in real time for a blog post is a pain in the neck. Risotto doesn’t wait for the many interruptions of the camera. By the time it gets to the bowl, the rice is overcooked and the grains separate from the creamy broth. If you look closely you can see. Oh well…
If you do want to get your risotto started and then stop it part way, do it within the first 15 minutes. You’ll have more wiggle room for recovery and the chance for al dente rice in a creamy bath.
When it comes to Thanksgiving turkey dinner, I’m a traditionalist–roast bird, simple bread stuffing, lots of vegetables and cranberry-orange chutney (recipe from the Ocean Spray bag). It’s my mom’s spread, and in fact, it’s pretty much what we served to over 300 happy people at Rialto yesterday.
But then I want to do something sexy with the leftovers. This combination of Mediterranean flavors is fabulous with the rich flavor of dark turkey meat. If you don’t get to this recipe with your Thanksgiving turkey, save it for another time. Turkey thighs are available all year. Just season them with salt and pepper and roast until tender. Then shred the meat. Make a quick broth for the risotto with the bones.
Click on a picture – go ahead!