For the kindergartner’s birthday party I busted out my free frozen turkey (work perk!) and had my ways with it. Not a green bird, unfortunately, but a freebie, and I cannot resist crisp poultry skin. I cut off the breasts and brined and roasted them for the celebration: 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup kosher salt, several garlic cloves, smashed and peeled, 3 bay leaves, ½ cup or so of fresh ginger, chunked and smashed, a handful of fresh thyme sprigs and a spoonful of allspice berries, crushed, all brought to a boil in a few cups of water. Add ½ cup maple syrup and ½ cup soy sauce plus ice and a quart or so of cold water. Brine breasts in mixture in the refrigerator for a day and a half. Pat the breasts dry and roast at 350º until done. Chill well and slice very thinly. Party!
Working the rest of the bird, the legs quarters went into the slow cooker with a bag of frozen broth scraps. For turkey tacos, we shredded the dark meat and stirred in some green salsa to fill Margarita’s corn tortillas nuked up with Full Quiver Farm‘s cheddar. The wings got roasted, as did the back and torso, plus loose fat chunks. Lots of crispy skin and swoonful eye rolling at that point. Roasting pans were deglazed with leg broth. Now the freezer holds savory promises of gravy and stir-frys. And that bag of giblets? Those offal parts found their calling in a pot of rice, like so many foods around this house.
DIRTY RICE serves several
- 1 set of turkey giblets plus the neck
- about 3 Tablespoons bacon grease. Mine’s leftover from Dai Due‘s smoked Richardson Farms pork belly.
- finely chopped organic or local celery, at least a cup. I haven’t had local this season. If you go to the HOPE market, check out Finca Pura Vida, my previous source. Say “Hola” to Edgar for me! Otherwise, Newflower Market’s selling organic celery for only 99¢ a bunch, through March 17.
- chopped local onion, a cup or so. Did I really just cook through a year in Central Texas with an uninterrupted local allium supply? We have arrived!
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- scant ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 or 4 cloves domestic organic garlic, minced. I just bought young garlic from Hairston Creek Farm and Montesino on Saturday. Get local if you’ve got it!
- 2 cups pepper broth, more if necessary. In season this dish requires bell peppers. I’m making do with my liquid capsicums right now. Most any rich broth will work.
- 2 bay leaves. Fresh is best, so get growin’!
- 1 teaspoon salt. I like Real Salt.
- generous handful fresh local parsley, widely available, from Central Market to the farmers markets to maybe your own backyard.
- several local green onions, chopped. Plenty to choose from at our farmers markets.
- lots of fresh cracked black pepper
Trim the giblets (remove any excess fat and cut the tough membrane off the gizzard) and cut the neck into 2 to 4 pieces to fit in your pan. Grind the gizzard and heart in your food processor. Remove and set aside and then puree the liver. Heat up the grease on medium-high in a large (3-quart size is good) saucepan. Brown the neck pieces well and then add the gizzard and heart mixture. Stir and brown then add the liver and brown some more. Add the celery and onion and saute until translucent, stirring in the dried herbs as well. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, then pour in the broth. Add the bay leaves and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the neck meat is tender.
Meanwhile, cook up your rice . See Jasmine Rice.
Remove the cooked neck pieces from the pan and let them cool a bit on a plate. If your meat mess is too soupy, boil it down some, uncovered, over high heat to evaporate the excess broth. Pick the meat from the neck and add it back to the pot. Taste for salt, stir in the parsley and green onions and black pepper. Fold in the hot rice.