Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Three Lives of a Turkey

Thanksgiving is pretty awesome, obviously... I mean, why else would I dedicate a 50th post to a Thanksgiving photo montage?! While I love Thanksgiving… in my family, what happens AFTER Thanksgiving is just as special and steeped in tradition as Turkey Day itself. I'm not talking about throwing around the ol' pig-skin or watching football (although we did win Apple Cup...go Huskies!), I'm not talking about spending time with distant relatives or catching up with home-town friends (although we did grab a beer), and I'm definitely not talking about working off the big dinner or sleeping in and unwinding... I'm talking about Black Friday and leftovers, baby!

Amanda, Mel, and I wake up at 3:30 am on Black Friday (Amanda’s favorite holiday of the year) to join in on the retail craziness. Door-busters, mega-sales and madness aside, we mostly just love the wild adventure that only happens once a year. When we get home, car heavy with shopping bags and bellies full of doughnuts and pastries, we usually crash for a few hours while John watches football, and then wake up to the preparation of what may be an even more exciting turkey feast than Thanksgiving itself. TURKEY ENCHILADAS!

Mel makes killer turkeyladas—corn and flour tortillas filled with creamy sauce, shredded turkey, lots of cheese, and slathered with verde sauce and black olives (topped with a heaping spoonful of sour cream). Served with cheesy baked refried beans, Mel’s homemade salsa, and Juanita’s tortilla chips, Black Friday Turkeyladas are just the spark your taste buds need after all those rich Thanksgiving flavors the day before. This year, we had a much smaller Thanksgiving crowd than usual, which—lucky for us—left us with plenty of leftover turkey, even after our Black Friday enchilada binge.

What to do with all that delicious leftover bird!? We saved out some white meat for basic turkey sandwiches, and we put the remains toward some very un-basic turkey sandwiches. BBQ Pulled Turkey sandwiches! Amanda found the recipe in November’s Bon Appétit, and I definitely think it has potential to join our turkey leftover tradition.

The bacon studded sauce mixed with the shredded turkey was tangy, smoky, and delicious, not to mention reminiscent of one of my favorite sandwiches—pulled pork! Piled high with sweet, fresh, and crunchy homemade slaw on top of a soft wheat bun and served alongside potato chips, pulled turkey sandwiches feel homey and simple, while lending a totally different taste profile to Thanksgiving leftovers.

Traditional roasted turkey with all the Thanksgiving fixings; cheesy, Mexican-flared turkey enchiladas; and smoky BBQ’d pulled turkey sandwiches—if you’re gonna eat a turkey once a year, this is by far the best way to do it.

Barbecue Pulled Turkey Sandwiches
(from Bon Appetit)


3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

Whisk mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and celery seeds in small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cabbage; toss to blend. Cover bowl and chill. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Barbecue sauce:
2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
1 cup tomato puree (we used home canned tomatoe sauce)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/3 cups shredded cooked turkey (light and dark meat)
4 soft rolls
Sauté bacon in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomato puree, apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water, dark brown sugar, chili powder, and ground cumin. Bring sauce to boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add shredded cooked turkey to barbecue sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until turkey is heated through, stirring occasionally. Split and toast rolls. Divide turkey and slaw among rolls. Press tops down lightly to compress, then serve.
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