Posts Tagged ‘using your leftovers’

On Christmas, some families are turkey-eaters.  Some, dine on a Standing Rib Roast or Rack of Lamb;  under my roof, it’s all about Ham.  And, one of the reasons why I love to have a ham on Christmas is to take the bone and bits of meat left behind, wrap it tightly in foil and then again in saran wrap, and stash it in the freezer for a spate of cold and wet weather like we’ve been having here in Southern California. 

There’s two things I like to make when I have a handsome hambone in my possession:  either my mother’s Lima Beans (not those awful hard mealy things you get in frozen vegetables, but the fat white ones) or Split Pea Soup.  This time around, it was going to be the latter.   It’s a simple recipe–I don’t add anything out of the ordinary, but sometimes, that’s all you really want: good, uncomplicated food. 

And can I tell you how much I love the word “hambone”?   I think if I ever get a dog, his name will totally be Hambone.

Choo gets grumpy when it’s wet outside,  so he was happy to come home to one of his favorite soups with a batch of homemade Buttermilk Biscuits. 

Split Pea & Ham Soup

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (or if you’re feeling dangerous, bacon fat)

1 large onion, medium dice

2 medium carrots, medium dice

2 large ribs celery, medium dice

1 hambone, with 1-2 cups of ham trimmed off (depending on what’s left that’s usable), chopped  and set aside

1-1 pound bag of dried split peas, picked through and rinsed

8 cups chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Heat a 4 to 6-quart sized soup pot on medium flame;  add vegetable oil.
  2. Sweat onions, carrots and celery until glossy and onions are translucent.
  3. Add hambone, dried peas, chicken stock, bay leaf, and thyme.  Bring to a full boil and then turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add reserved chopped ham and stir.  Return to simmer and let cook for another 30-45 minutes until peas are tender.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

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You know how it is, when you’ve cooked off a large turkey for Thanksgiving, and you’ve kept the carcass wrapped in the fridge, pulling it out to carve off a slice or two for sandwiches, but you just haven’t done much else with it.  The minute I had an afternoon, it was time to turn that carcass into one of Choo’s favorite leftover dishes–my Turkey “Pot Pie”.  I call it pot pie since it’s just easier, but it’s really more of a biscuit/dumpling top rather than a crust.  It’s a great way to get the last bits of meat off the turkey and use the bones, along using up any last leftover vegetables.  This is best done in a cast iron skillet that can go from stove to oven,  but can easily be transferred to a large casserole dish if you don’t have one.

First, pull off any usable meat off the carcass–about 3 cups worth–and put the carcass in a stockpot.  Cover the bones with water, and toss in some aromatics like onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, thyme, parsley–why, yes, you will be making a stock.  Bring it up to a boil and simmer for a few hours and strain.  Pour back into a stock pot and reduce to 3 cups.   While the stock is simmering away, a basic biscuit dough is made, and left to rest in the fridge until it’s almost time to put in the oven.  Sweat some vegetables, toss in some flour, add stock to make gravy, add in turkey and any leftover vegetables, top with biscuits, and bake.  Easy, yes?   It’s homey and really not as hard as it sounds.  It’s really a great way to use up the last of the turkey, and it’s perfect for a cold evening (I love being able to have the oven on to warm up the house).

Turkey & Biscuits

1 turkey carcass

Pull off 3 cups of usable white and dark meat, trimmed of any skin and gristle, and save in refrigerator.  Place turkey carcass in a stockpot, cover with water, and add aromatics such as onion, carrot, celery, thyme, parley, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and let simmer for 2-3 hours.  Strain solids and return stock to pot;  simmer until reduced to 3 cups.

Biscuit Topping

2 cups AP flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into cubes

appx. 3/4 cup cold milk

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour, until butter is incorporated into flour and forms pea-sized (or a little smaller) pieces.
  3. Add milk and stir until milk is just absorbed, and dough is still a bit crumbly, but will hold together when pressed.
  4. Put dough on a floured surface and knead only 10 times–just press down and fold, to make layers in the biscuits.  Pat into a disk and wrap well in plastic wrap.  Let dough rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Turkey Filling and Assembly

3 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

3 Tbs. AP flour

3 cups turkey stock (hot)

3 cups reserved turkey meat

1-2 cups leftover vegetables such as corn or green beans (and, you know, they don’t need to be leftover.  Add what you like.)

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-low heat and add vegetable oil.  Add onion, celery, carrot and thyme and sweat for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are glossy and onions are translucent.
  3. Turn heat up to medium, and sprinkle flour over vegetables, and let flour cook, while stirring, for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add hot turkey stock, starting at 1/2 cup at a time, stirring to create a smooth gravy.  Add all the stock, and bring to a full simmer.
  5. Add turkey meat and vegetables.  Bring to a full simmer again, then turn off heat.
  6. Bring out biscuit dough and roll out on floured surface to 1/2″ thick.  Cut into 3″ rounds and top turkey filling.
  7. Put skillet into oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown and filling is bubbling and thick.

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