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Saturday, January 12, 2013

A little Thai, a little 1950's era American diner...sure

Holiday leftovers. No no no, don't close the page, stick around, it's ok really. 
 Just like you I have a freezer full of turkey carcass and stuffing. Yes, I could make turkey soup, I love turkey soup. I could make turkey tetrazzini (also called turkey spaghetti) except I'm not going to.
 What I'm going to do is grab some coconut milk, lemon grass and ginger and make something new; and I hope, wonderful.

 I like Thai, I like everything about it. Complex and contrasting flavors with exotic spices. I also truly love classic American grub. Born out of necessity with roots in all the diverse cultures and places our immigrant ancestors came from.
  I was contemplating a traditional Thai coconut curry soup with turkey instead of the usual shrimp and blah-blah. I was also thinking of using some of the recipes from my collection of old cookbooks dating back to early and middle 20th century. Then it hit me. Use both, why not? WELL??? Right.

 Turkey Croquette islands in a Thai Curry ocean.

 Yes, you'll need to make turkey-broth. Just get as much of the flesh off before-hand and reserve (2 cups), we'll need that later. All those cooked bones, throw in a pot with mirepoix and water. Won't take long. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Got some herb stems lying around? Super, use those to.
 OH BUT NICK WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND STOCK? Simply, stock is made from raw bones, broth is made from cooked.

 Once all the mirepoix is translucent, strain out with the bones and reserve the liquid part of the program.
 Hey look, if you don't have any bones but just left-over turkey flesh, just use some chicken or vegetable stock, it's fine really. I hope you have as much as I have, it came to about 6 cups. Anything you don't use, freeze.

 Now some words about the Thai stuff.

  Curry. Yes you think India invented curry. Here's the truth. The word Curry comes from an ancient, south-eastern Asian language, it literally means "A blend of some shit we made because all the blue-eyed barbarians said they wanted something spicy but they didn't really mean it so now we're stuck with this crap." Or something close to it. I might have translated wrong.
 It contains Turmeric, Cardamom, Cumin, Coriander, Chili-powder. Use whatever ratio works best for you. Because I'm doing Thai I'd use more of the Coriander and Cardamom than I usually do. If you have access to Thai red-curry where you are then sure, use it. I did.

 Lemon-Grass. WTF is this? It's an Asian herb that contains a terrific amount of citronella. Looks like a small stalk of bamboo and is getting pretty easy to find in most grocery stores. Smells and tastes more lemony than lemons. Also it repels mosquitoes. That's important somehow. Anyway....
 Look for firm and fresh green stalks. If the outer sheathes are brown and wrinkled then it just sucks. We're only using the big white ends but save the greener parts, still lots of flavor there and while inedible you can throw those in the soup and retrieve later.

Thai soup mise-en-place
 Coconut milk. Not really milk, no cows involved but it's easy to find in the canned form. You'll need two. Cans, not cows.

1 large onion, julienne
2 peeled carrots, cut on the bias
2 stalks celery, same
1 red Bell pepper cut into thin strips
1 green-onion, sliced thin
The diced peel and juice of 1 Lime
1-2 small hot peppers, if you can find Thai peppers great, if you can't just use Serrano or Jalapeno ok? Just chop those up, seeds and all. I WANT NOSES TO RUN!! If you don't, please omit.
I also used some Snow-Peas but a handful of baby spinach is good too
some chopped up fresh Cilantro
about 1 TB grated fresh ginger
same for minced Lemon-Grass
1 TB Red Curry paste (or more if you're completely nuts) I'm completely and totally nuts.
some Kosher salt

First up, heat up a big pot. Add some oil and all at once dump in the vegetables, except for the snow-peas. A pinch of salt would be a good thing to add here.

We want to leave some texture and crunch for later. Sweat those around for just a bit, add the red curry paste, lemon-grass and ginger. Add in the lime peel and juice. Next add the stock, let that come up to a near boil.

Add the coconut milk and maybe a whole stalk of lemon-grass.
Let simmer for maybe 20 minutes. Again, Thai is a cuisine of contrasts so we don't want mushy vegetables.

Add the chopped hot pepper.

Let it go for another five and add the snow-peas. You got any fresh cilantro? Add it now.

Take off heat, our carry-over heat is going to do the work for us. We move on.

CROQUETTES didn't see that coming did you?
Time was mid-20th century there wasn't an American diner that didn't have croquettes. What are they? Well they are a great way to use up left-overs. They utilize chopped up meats and starches and can include almost anything. Usually meat and old mashed potato. Today of course I've got Turkey and Stuffing. I KNOW, RIGHT??? Who doesn't love stuffing. It's then egged, breaded and fried. For some wacky reason my Chef brain kept putting the flavors of the traditional Holiday Turkey dinner together with Thai. No, I don't know why.

 2 cups finely-chopped up left over Turkey
2 cups left over stuffing

salt and pepper
1 egg for the mix, 2 eggs beaten for coating
a wide shallow bowl of bread-crumbs
a pot for frying and some oil

Easy stuff, think of these as meatballs 'cus they kinda are. Or maybe they're meat donut-holes. Finely chop up the meat part, the finer the better. Stir together with the Stuffing, if you got any fresh Parsley around chop it up and add it, check seasoning. Mix around with one egg. That's our binding agent.

Heat up a pot of frying fat, either oil, shortening....whatever

 Roll up into balls, doesn't have to be perfect. Roll in bread-crumbs, dip in egg and roll in bread-crumbs again. Fry up until dark brown. Set aside. did you get that? We roll in crumbs, then egg, then crumbs again. THEN fry.

look how pretty

Grab a bowl. Add a ladle of Thai, introduce some of our American croquettes. Let them say "howdy."
 I just can't get over how well the curry-coconut thing works with the American turkey-and-stuffing thing.

Eat up.

here we are with just some left-overs and our imagination.

Cooking poor, eating rich
get your grub on

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