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Monday, November 29, 2010

After The Bird

Another Thanksgiving has quietly slipped away.  One of the joys of a low key holiday is that it comes and goes without trauma. There were no decorations to take down.  No furniture to  re-position. Thanksgiving simply.....happened.  We ate, drank, ate, and napped.  Beautifully, I might add.

We had no stress.  In fact, I had to wake Michael up from  napping when it was time to eat. He came down  our grand staircase as I was whisking the turkey pan jus into glorious thickened giblet gravy.
It was a great day of cooking and lounging.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Michael, through tears, read our Thanksgiving blessings from his original tattered Book Of Common Prayer. We ate.  We moaned.  We ate more.

We had  oysters on the half shell well before our meal as an amuse bouche.  A gigantic amuse bouche with a peppery vinegar mignonette sauce, cocktail sauce, fresh lemon, and saltine crackers.  Gulps of briny goodness. Briny clean tasting oyster bombs housed within muddy shells with ocassional pea crabs poking through. Heaven.


 We had plenty of leftovers.  A 15 pound turkey for two people goes a long way.  A very long way.  Last year, we forgot to buy bread, which meant no turkey sandwiches. Not one. This year, bread was boldly underlined three times on our shopping list. We had sandwiches this year.   Michael took the traditional route.  I had mine with double mayo, pickles, lettuce, tomato, sliced onion, Sriracha, salt, pepper, and a pile of Grippo's Bar-B-Q chips.

We had plate after plate of Thanksgiving turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, dressing, and gravy.

The leftovers were fantastic.  Familiar.  Delicious.


Though wonderful, the usual line-up got old.  Weary.

I couldn't take it anymore.  Really.  Nope. No. Nada. I couldn't stare at or eat another plate of brown food.  Not even a shower of fresh parsley could  jar my palate from its unctuous culinary labatomy.

We weren't tired of turkey.  We were tired of those flavors.

 I promised Michael I wouldn't make another turkey soup this year.  Or Hot Brown.  Or Turkey Hash.

Last night, I ventured very far away from traditional Thanksgiving flavors.  1,200 miles away for the tastes of Mexico. We would still have turkey leftovers, but they would  be jacked up. Way up.  Leftovers on steroids.

 I needed to clear stuff from the refrigerator and pantry.  I decided to treat the turkey like ground beef and make  piccadillo stacked tostados with cheese filled chili rellenos.

I placed poblano chilis over a gas flame to char and blister the skins.  Once blackened, I dropped them into a pastic bag to steam and cool down. After removing the smoky blistered skins, I carefully cut  small slits on one side of the peppers, removed the seeds, stuffed them with queso blanco cheese, and set them aside.

Picadillo is traditionally a dish of sauteed ground beef, onions, garlic, and green peppers.  Some recipes add raisins.  Puerto Rican recipes include green olives.  I had olives.  I didn't have raisins.  I sauteed sliced green peppers, onions, garlic, and quartered tomatillos until softened  before adding sliced turkey, chicken stock, tomatoes, coriander, annatto, roasted red peppers, and halved spanish olives.  I let the picadillo simmer for 30 minutes while I prepared the tostados.

After arranging six fried corn tortillas on a baking sheet, I topped them with sharp cheddar cheese, crumbled cotija cheese, dried mexican oregano, and dried epazote.  I slid the tostados into a 350 oven to crisp the shells and melt the cheeses. 
While the picadillo simmered and the shells baked, I dipped the roasted stuffed poblano peppers  into  whipped egg whites, dropped in the deep fryer to brown, and set them on paper towels to drain.

I pulled the shells from the oven and spooned the turkey picadillo over the melted cheeses, stacking the tostados three layers high. 

Soft runny mexican crema  drizzled over the tops dripped down the sides of the stacked tostados.  I tumbled tart fresh quartered tomatillos and green peppers around the stacks for bright freshness. Halved limes and yellow rice finished it off.

It was a far cry from Thanksgiving turkey.  The sleepy flavors of our previous turkey meals were thankfully gone. Briny olives, acidic tomatoes, sharp tomatillos, sweet onions, and sauteed peppers replaced the  richness of giblet gravy.  The piccadillo was bright, spicy, and alive, soothed by the silken oozing dripping crema.  The crunches and crackles of the stacked tostados were welcome relief from the previous days dreamy soft food. Fun to eat.  Messy.  Loud.

The chili rellenos were gratuitous. Yeah, they were tasty. But, they didn't beg devouring like everything else on the plate. 

Our dinner last night was a great finale for Thanksgiving leftovers and a fantastic ending to a Thanksgiving weekend.

This morning, I bagged the remaining turkey and tossed it into the freezer.  It'll get lost in there for a while, hiding under shrimp shells, frozen meat, and chicken backs. 

When rediscovered, maybe we'll have a proper plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

And, be thankful for it.

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