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Monday, January 17, 2011

Using up the Last of the T-giving Turkey in a Faux Cassoulet

Well, almost two months later, I finally did it. I finished my turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving. Yes, that took awhile! I had proudly cooked a large (15.7-pound) bird for a small group. Guests were sent home with leftovers and a stock was made and some was repurposed into meals the days following the big dinner and still plenty was left to freeze! Now that it's gone, it's safe to assume that I'm not gonna want to eat turkey again anytime soon. Not gonna want to eat any meat for awhile, actually. I'm ready for a post-holiday cleanse...

And when I finish the last of the multitude of winter squash and potatoes still left from my CSA, I'll probably want a cleanse from orange or starchy vegetables, too...

Just as I was deciding this, the Daring Kitchen challenged me to make a confit to use for a classic preparation of a traditional French cassoulet. Do you know what that means? Typically confit refers to meat that is seasoned and slowly cooked submerged in its own rendered fat. An interesting food preservation technique that I do want to learn, but, um, not very cleansing.

I took the veg option, which meant cooking vegetables with a good glug of olive oil before adding in the stock and other various ingredients to make it a stew of sorts. And then I deleted its vegetarian label by stirring in the last of the shredded turkey. The finishing accent was a crumble of garlicky toasted breadcrumbs. It's a fine cold-weather soup and a practical solution for turkey excess. Maybe after a few months of virtuous eating have passed, I'll be ready to approach the confit...

Turkey and Veg Cassoulet
adapted from Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008
serves 10-12

3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
¾ lbs carrots, halved lengthwise and roughly diced
1½ lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roughly diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 oregano sprigs
1 bay leaf
⅛ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh group pepper
4 cups cooked snow cap beans, reserve about a half cup to mash to thicken the soup, reserve the pot liquor (cooking liquid)
28-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, roughly chopped, reserve juices
about 2 cups shredded, cooked turkey
1 qt turkey stock
1 bunch kale, center ribs removed and roughly chopped

Bread Crumb Topping
4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
⅓ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 TBS chopped parsley
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces, then wash well by swirling in a deep bowl of cold water. Allow the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Skim off clean leeks from the water surface being careful not to disturb the silt that collected at the bottom of the bowl.
2. Cook leeks, carrots, butternut squash, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans (both whole and mashed) and its pot liquor, tomatoes and their juices, shredded turkey and stock. Stir in the kale. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until kale is wilted and carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
4. Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated.
5. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Cool crumbs in pan.
7. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf.
8. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.

Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

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