No matter how many people come to Thanksgiving at my house, when the dishes have been cleared, several pounds of turkey meat and a tall carcass are still there.
The challenge is how to store the remains of a creature the size of a wedding cake. Often framed as a question of what to do with leftovers, it’s actually a real estate problem: 1/2 cubic foot of refrigerator space versus 1 cubic foot of turkey.
There are several ways to deal with the aftermath. One of my friends serves her family a dish made of diced turkey and leftover gravy mixed into a mound of rice. They refer to it fondly as “Glop.”
My solution is chili. One inspiration for this recipe is the chili that Chef Tom Hashagen and his BOCES Culinary Arts students made for at least 15 years at Shelter Island’s 5K post-race celebrations.
The other inspiration is the excellent selection of spices and ground chilies at Maria’s Kitchen (55 North Ferry Road). Maria Schultheis roasts and grinds her anchos to order. I keep a bag in my freezer — ready to deploy as needed. The chilies impart a sweet, smoky taste that is great with turkey.
The foundation of this quick stew is a rich stock that I make on Thanksgiving, starting right after dinner and partially solving the refrigerator capacity problem. At that point, one more pot to clean is collateral damage.
Take off the remaining meat, break up the carcass and put it in a pot with a large, unpeeled carrot, two ribs of celery, a quartered onion and just enough cold water to cover it all. Bring to a boil, turn down to a very low simmer and go do something else for three hours. Then strain it; refrigerate four cups for the chili and freeze the rest.
Turkey Chili | By Charity Robey
2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic, mashed, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoons savory
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 bay leaf
19-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
4 cups chicken or turkey stock (preferably made from that carcass)
1 cup cooked barley
3 cups shredded cooked turkey
Sauté onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium flame about 10 minutes or until the onions wilt and the garlic is fragrant.
Add the marjoram, savory, cumin, 2 tablespoons of the chili powder and bay leaf. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the garbanzo beans and stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Taste and add salt and the third tablespoon of chili powder if you want more heat.
Add the barley. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
Add the shredded turkey, bring back to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
Serve in bowls with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream if you like.