PAIRINGS November 2003
Recipes, tips and wine pairings for turkey that will make you wonder why you ever complained about leftovers.
Turkey Ten Ways
Recipes, tips and wine pairings that will make you wonder why you ever complained about leftovers.
I come from a family of Thanksgiving turkey lovers. Even in years when we have only a small crowd, the designated cook will buy an extra-big turkey, just to make sure that there are lots of leftovers. A 20-pound turkey for five people might sound ludicrous to some, but not to us. I often eat my leftover turkey as is, with leftover trimmings, but after a few meals of this, I like to get a little fancier.
The fact that Thanksgiving turkey is already cooked makes it easy to use for a fast, satisfying meal. And if it becomes a little monotonous, I freeze it for a week or two, by which time it seems delicious and special all over again. Luckily, it is an enormously adaptable meat, a palette for all sorts of seasonings and cooking styles. This trait lends itself to many pairings with wine beyond the traditional Pinot Noir combination, which is important, because finding intriguing wine matches will make any next-day dish of turkey taste even better.
"Adding the right wine makes the occasion," says Gary Fisch, owner-operator of Gary's Wine & Marketplace in Madison and Bernardsville, New Jersey, "even if you're just hanging out for a quiet supper after the bustle of Thanksgiving." Fisch, who was the "Wine Guy" on the Food Network's Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay, offers some imaginative pairings with our creative suggestions for sprucing up Thanksgiving leftovers. You'll find recipes for several, but many are simple and easy enough to do with no further guidance.
1. Roast Turkey
A touch of kitchen performance anxiety on Thanksgiving morning drives me every year to reread the basic roasting recipe that I should know by heart. How many minutes per pound for a stuffed bird? How many for unstuffed? To alleviate your anxiety, we reproduce the basics here.
An unstuffed bird cooks faster, but I'm in the stuffing-inside-the-turkey camp, because I like the way the turkey juices run into the stuffing mixture. I don't flavor my stuffing with other meats or seafood—just chopped onions, celery, mushrooms and apples, for a hint of contrast.
If your turkey is frozen, be sure to defrost it early, either in the refrigerator or in cold water (not on the kitchen counter at room temperature, where bacteria can grow). To thaw in the refrigerator, allow 24 hours per 5 pounds. If you are using the cold-water method, place the turkey, still in its package, in cold water to cover in a clean sink or deep pan. You might have to weight it down with a pot to keep it submerged. Change the water often to keep it cold. Allow 30 minutes defrosting time per pound. Be sure the bird is thoroughly defrosted before you begin to cook, or the outer meat will be roasted and the frozen interior will stay undercooked. You should be able to wiggle the leg joints of a defrosted bird.
1 whole turkey (figure about 1 pound per person)
Wine recommendations: When he heard of my fondness for apples in the stuffing, Fisch suggested "a big, fruity Napa Valley Chard, not overly oaked, but buttery. It's got some apple in it." He likes Franciscan's Chard because it has great ripe fruit and is well priced between $14 and $18. For those who prefer red, he suggests a Beaujolais—"either a Nouveau leftover that you haven't drunk yet, or a Beaujolais Villages like a Jadot."
2. Turkey Soup
One thing nobody in my family competes with me for is the turkey carcass; they know it's mine. It makes a wonderful, rich broth. Throw it into the pot with enough water to cover, add some carrots, onions, celery and parsley, and simmer, uncovered (covering the broth can sour it) until you've got yourself a soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add noodles and cut-up turkey if you like. The soup freezes nicely, and it's great for a warm, homemade pick-me-up as the weather gets colder. (If you don't have time to make soup immediately after Thanksgiving, you can freeze the carcass in a plastic bag and make your soup later.)
If I want to jazz up this soup with a taste of Mexico, I add some lime juice, sliced tomato and avocado and a few tortilla chips.
Wine recommendation: For the Mexican variation, Fisch suggests an Oregon Pinot Noir. "It's a little bit lighter in style; it has great acidity, which you need once you have that tomato. Also, it's a little bit earthy in the finish, which works well with the onions and celery in the broth." He suggests a Montinore Pinot Noir, priced around $13.
3. Turkey Salade Niçoise
A classic salade Niçoise has tuna as its centerpiece, but turkey makes a very nice substitute, surrounded by blanched haricots verts, boiled potatoes, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, olives (Niçoise of course, and any others you like), hard-cooked eggs and pickled beets and/or anchovies if you like them. If you are worried that your turkey will be a little dry, toss it first in a bit of Dijon mustard vinaigrette or a good Caesar dressing. The same dressing can be drizzled over the other components of the salad. (To blanche the beans, drop them into boiling water and let them boil for just one or two minutes, until they are a brilliant green. Then plunge them into a bowl of ice water for just 30 seconds. This will set the color and stop them from cooking, so they'll retain their perfect tender-crisp texture.)
Wine recommendation: "This sounds southern French to me," says Fisch, "so it shouts southern red." He suggests a Domaine Le Couroulu, from Vacqueyras. "It's got great fruit; it's got earthy notes. I think it would be a great match with the vegetables and it would stand up to the vinaigrette," he says. Its price: around $14.
4. Sloppy Tom
For a fast lunch or informal supper, pour a judicious amount of bottled barbecue sauce over shredded turkey; microwave just to heat through; then pile the "barbecued" turkey and a mound of cold coleslaw on a crusty hard roll, and dig in.
There are many barbecue sauces on the market today, but if the one you've bought is lackluster, doctor it up with sautéed onions, tomatoes, or a pinch of brown sugar.
Beverage recommendation: Beer would be a natural with this meal, and Fisch suggests Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which he says has a "rich enough flavor, but it's not too heavy." He also suggests a wine that he says can hold its own with the spiciness of the barbecue sauce: Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2000. "It has enough flavor without the tannin. With heat, you don't want tannin. This is a bold, spicy wine, loaded with ripe fruit, spice and some pepperiness. It can handle the barbecue sauce." The price is about $12.
5. Thai-Style Turkey Curry
You won't find turkey on Thai menus but, like chicken, turkey takes to the bold flavors of the curry sauce beautifully. This is a Massaman-style curry that I learned when I took cooking classes in Thailand, so it's authentic and surprisingly easy—and the basic formula will work with a variety of meats, fish or vegetables. Here, I paired potatoes, onions and basil with the turkey and curry fixin's: coconut milk, curry paste, curry powder, fish sauce and palm sugar. Most of these once-exotic ingredients are now available in gourmet shops or the more worldly supermarkets.
Thai-Style Turkey Curry
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice or other long-grain white rice
Wine recommendation: Fisch had a ready pairing for this recipe: "When I think of Thai food, I think of Alsatian wine—it has good fruit and high acidity, and you need that to battle the coconut sauce. You can't have a wimpy wine here. If you had a California Chard it would destroy both the food and the wine. For this dish, I recommend a Gewürztraminer. It's rich, has lots of texture, good mouthfeel and spicy overtones." One of his favorites is a Hugel. Pierre Sparr's Reserve and Trimbach are also reliable. They are priced around $13 to $19.
6. Pasta with Turkey, Baby Spinach
and Grape Tomatoes
They haven't managed to breed the flavor out of grape tomatoes, as they have with so many other tomatoes destined for shipping, so I like to use these tiny jewels once the summer tomatoes are gone. They aren't very juicy, so they don't make a saucy sauce—instead, they offer little bursts of flavor as you bite into them.
Wine recommendations: Because of this dish's obvious Italian overtones, Fisch suggests a simple Chianti, such as a Toscolo, which, he says will cost about $9 and offer "nice, firm acidity and good fruit flavor. It's a great bottle of wine for the money." For something a little fancier, Fisch suggests a higher-end Tuscan, such as a Chianti Classico Reserva or a Vino Nobile di Montepulicano.
7. Herbed Crepes Stuffed with Turkey, Apples, Mushrooms and Turkey Kielbasa
I envision this dish as the centerpiece of a special Sunday brunch, when you have a little more time in the kitchen. The components are fairly simple, but there are three of them: crepes, filling and sauce. Make the crepe batter first and let it rest for at least 20 minutes—the flour needs to absorb the liquids in the batter. (You can make the batter the night before and let it develop, covered, in the refrigerator.) While the batter rests, do the filling and the sauce and keep it warm; then cook the crepes. Don't be scared away by the flambéing called for in the sauce recipe. It's fun, once you get the hang of it.
Wine recommendations: "Brunch calls for a sparkling wine," says Fisch. "But for this dish it can't be a bone-dry French brut, and a demi-sec would be too sweet." Instead, he suggests a Roederer Estate sparkler from Mendocino, which he says has "a lot of acidity and it's earthy, to go the with the mushrooms."
8. Turkey Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato (TBLT)
Just add sliced turkey to the basic BLT and you've got lunch. To spread on the bread, use regular mayonnaise, or, for something a little fancier, make a tomato mayonnaise. Give one cup mayo and one seeded, peeled vine-ripened or plum tomato a quick whirl in the blender or food processor. Blend in a roasted red pepper along with the tomato and you can call it by its French name: sauce andalouse, but I like it with just the tomatoes. (To peel the tomato easily, carve an "X" into one end, drop it into boiling water for about 30 seconds and then into a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds. The peel will practically fall off.)
Wine recommendations: For the TBLT, Fisch suggests a rosé, because "there's nothing better for lunch, even in the fall." He specifies a dry rosé with good acidity that will stand up to the bacon and tomato. His pick: Vega Sindoa from Spain, priced around $7.
9. Turkey-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Here's a Thanksgiving variation on the stuffed potato. Buy the biggest sweet potatoes or yams you can find and bake them at 400ÂºF for about an hour. (I've read recipes for
microwave-baked sweet potatoes, but in my own kitchen, I've had poor results; the sugars in the spuds don't seem to caramelize as nicely as they do when baked slowly in the oven.) Slit the potatoes lengthwise, leaving the shells intact. Remove the pulp and mash with a little butter. If you think the potato isn't sweet enough, which can happen occasionally, or if you want extra richness, mix in a little honey. Return the potato to its shell, top with shredded or sliced turkey and cranberry sauce and drizzle with leftover turkey gravy.
Wine recommendations: A spicy red Zinfandel is Fisch's choice for this dish. He likes Ravenswood Vintners Blend, priced at around $8.
10. Stir-fried Turkey with Red Peppers
and Green Beans
Another fast, easy, yet delicious meal that won't seem like leftovers. The simple sauce of equal parts soy sauce and hoisin can be used for other stir-fries. Just don't increase the quantity much beyond 3 tablespoons of each, or the sauce can get too salty.
Stir-fried Turkey with Red Peppers and Green Beans
For more turkey-based recipes, pick up the November 2003 issue of Wine Enthusiast at your local newsstand or wine retailer.
Wine recommendations: "This is a full-flavored dish with a lot of stuff in it that could make the wine crazy," says Fisch. "We could go back to Alsace, but that would be too easy, so instead, I chose a Pinot Gris from Oregon. It's got a richer flavor, and it's very smooth and ripe, with hazelnut overtones." Fisch cautions that some of the more inexpensive Oregon Pinot Gris won't have enough texture and fruit to stand up to this stir-fry, but the better ones will work just fine. He especially likes the WillaKenzie Pinot Gris, priced at around $20.