Sunday, December 18, 2011

Turkey Chowder

IMG_0311 I thought for sure I had posted this recipe somewhere, but haven't turned it up searching here, my LJ (where food posts went pre-Blogspot), or various email list archives. Time to fix that.

This soup was a Thanksgiving staple of my mother's--she was a soup-maker par excellence, usually without recipes, and I don't know if she evolved this one on her own or if it started with a clipping way back when. By the time I remember her making it there was no recipe around. I (being a recipe-reliant type even when doing my own variations) worked out this set of proportions that make a reasonable facsimile of Mother's turkey chowder.

Turkey Chowder

1-2 T. olive oil or butter or turkey fat skimmed from the stock*
2 small onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
1 c. raw rice (Mother used white, brown is fine but adjust the cooking time)
2 qts. hot turkey stock*
2-3 cups 2% or skim milk
1 cup chopped turkey meat (optional)
1-1/2 tsp salt or to taste
8-10 grinds of pepper or to taste

Saute onions and celery in the oil until onions are translucent. Add the raw rice and stir to coat with the oil. Add the hot turkey broth, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Add milk and chopped turkey, if using, and season to taste. Bring back to serving temperature over low heat.

Notes: I generally have skim milk on hand, and like the consistency I get with about 3 cups of milk. If I have whole or 2%, I use less milk--I don't like this as a very rich soup. If you like a richer soup, go for the whole milk and more of it.
I like my turkey chowder peppery, so that 8-10 grinds is just a starting point.

*Turkey stock

The way the Thanksgiving ritual went, at least in years featuring roast turkey, was that my father dissected the bird in the kitchen with a serving platter on one side to receive the sliced meat, and a crockpot on the other where all the bones, skin, fat, and other scraps, including any aromatics from the turkey roasting, went. When the turkey was completely dissembled, generally the crockpot was full. Mother would add water almost to the top, turn it on, and let it cook overnight. (Wonderful smell in the house the next morning...) Then the stock was drained from the skin and bones (which was all discarded--any meat in there would be tasteless after 14+ hours of cooking) and strained into a container to go into the fridge to cool. That afternoon or the next day the stock would have solidified, and the fat layer on top, also solidified, could be easily removed to leave an almost completely fat-free and very flavorful stock. Smoked turkey? Even better.

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