one of my favorite (turkey) things ::::
Ah, Thanksgiving leftovers. This year, I made our favorite turkey congee the day after, then tried my hand at making a new turkey dish: turkey rice (火雞肉飯). We first tried this dish in Chiayi, Taiwan this summer, it being the signature dish of the region. We ate all sorts of night market foods there, the heat of summer still almost swallowing us up those two nights, aerosolized grease and humidity not slowing us down as much as I expected. We sweat more than we ate.
So I thought after Thanksgiving this year: why not? Let’s bring some turkey rice to Atlanta.
I nosed around on the internet and found a few recipes, merged and adapted them slightly to replicate what I remember tasting in Chiayi, and for the use of leftover Thanksgiving turkey. The recipes I found started with raw turkey and the process of rendering the drippings from the skin and boiling the meat. My roasted turkey meat takes out those steps. I only salt (and sometimes pepper) our Thanksgiving bird, so there’s no chance of Western flavors intruding on the East. I did not save the drippings (gravy was already made — make-ahead!) because I was lazy, though they are perfect for this dish if not all used up in your gravy.
The best part are the mix of the shallot, turkey and soy sauce flavors — I love salty, meaty-onion flavors. If you’re vegan, try seitan or mushrooms in place of meat. While I love the colorful sides for the turkey congee, turkey rice is even more pared down. It’s just one bowl. Easy to reheat. Easy to serve. Easy to eat. After all that cooking on Thanksgiving, something needs to be easy.
One year ago: chocolate peanut butter bars
Two years ago: turkey congee (Appropriate turkey love!)
- 3 to 4 pounds bone-in cooked turkey pieces, a mix of white and dark meat – You’ll need about 4 cups of shredded meat ultimately
- up to ½ cup turkey drippings/grease, saved from prior cooking (if not used for gravy)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup dried fried shallots (If using fresh, use ¾ cup and slice thinly)
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 cup turkey broth, unsalted and warmed (made earlier from turkey bones)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- steamed rice
- extra turkey broth (for rewarming meat if needed)
- PREP WORK BEFORE COOKING: For the meat: Assess your leftover Thanksgiving turkey. I use the not-necessarily-cleaned bones for making unsalted broth, the bits of meat cooking for hours to become soft and easy to remove from the bones. Carefully separate the meat from the bones – you do not want to serve bone chips in the mix. You can also chop up some of the leftover turkey not added to make the broth and add to the shredded turkey. You’ll need about 4 cups of the shredded turkey. If you had turkey drippings from Thanksgiving and for some reason did not use all for gravy, here is the time to use them.
- If you don’t have turkey grease and/or shallot oil to make ½ cup, use pork grease or ghee. (I know, ghee is not Taiwanese. Just a last ditch alternative.)
- ACTUAL COOKING PART: Shred the 4 cups of turkey. Discard skin. Dice pretty finely: you want maximum turkey surface area to soak up the sauce.
- Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Cook shallots to soften – this goes very quickly! Don’t burn. Move to paper towel-lined plate. Save this oil. (If you have enough turkey grease, you don’t need to do this step if you’re using dried, fried shallots.)
- Combine this cooking oil with turkey grease to equal ½ cup. Set aside.
- Mix the white pepper, 1 cup warmed turkey broth, soy sauce, cooked shallots, and sugar. Add the turkey grease.
- In each bowl, scoop some steamed rice, a mound of turkey, and a few spoonfuls of sauce. Serve hot.
- If rewarming the components, I like to rewarm the turkey with a spoonful of broth to keep it from drying out in the microwave. Everything stores well refrigerated for a few days.