As I suspect was the case in many households this last week, we had lots of leftover turkey after Christmas Day. Actually, I'm not sure that "leftover" is really the right term, since it would be unreasonable to expect five people to devour a 5.2Kg turkey in one meal. We had always planned for there to be "leftovers", to allow us to make some other dishes using turkey meat. This post is about one such offering that I put together...
This was the starting point: we just happened to have a good quantity of brown (leg / thigh) meat from the turkey; some turkey stock; and one Cavolo Nero plant harvested from the garden earlier in the day. (Oh, and a home-grown chilli...)
Having had turkey breast in cheese sauce earlier in the week, I wanted to do something completely different. The Cavolo Nero suggested to me a dish along the lines of "Aloo Saag" (curried potato with spinach), and the rest followed from there.
I used the stock, an onion, the chilli, the turkey meat and some ready-made curry powder to make this dish:
It hardly needed any real cooking - just fry the chopped onion gently for about five minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer gently for about half an hour, or until the onion is fully cooked. During this time the cooked meat will soften a lot, so be careful not to over-do it.
To accompany my turkey curry I made a Tarka Dhal, using Urad (or Urid, or Urd) lentils cooked slowly until tender (approx an hour?), to which I added a Tarka made of fried onion and a "crackled" mix of whole spices. I used Cumin, Coriander, Fenugreek, Kalonji, White Mustard and Black Mustard, with a few flakes of dried chilli. To crackle spices you heat them dry in a small frying pan until they start to jump about. You will also hear them split open with a crack. At this point, remove the pan from the heat quickly otherwise the spices will burn. Tip the spices immediately into the Dhal and stir well. Then cook for a further half hour or so to ensure the flavours are fully infused. Add salt only towards the end of the cooking time or else the lentils will never soften completely. The texture I like for my Dhal is similar to a porridge - quite thick. If the lentils are properly cooked the Dhal will be almost creamy. If your dietary regime will allow this, you can add ghee (clarified butter) to enhance this effect.
Finally, the dish that started me along the curry route: Potatoes cooked in coconut milk with Cavolo Nero.
I par-boiled the potatoes in some water to which I had added about half a teaspoon of Turmeric powder. This gave the potatoes a subltle tint of yellow (I didn't want grey potatoes, as can sometimes happen when you boil old potatoes). About half an hour before serving time I put a tin of coconut milk into a saucepan, added the potatoes and brought the pan to a gentle simmer. About 5 minutes before serving I added the Cavolo Nero leaves (from which the tough central veins had been removed). The leaves only need a minute or two to cook - rather like spinach. The finished dish looked like this:
I think the key to this dish is cooking the potatoes to just the right stage. The potatoes should be of a floury variety, rather than a waxy one, so that they go "fluffy at the edges" when boiled. They should be soft enough to mash without too much difficulty - you'll definitely want to mash them into that lovely tasty coconut milk! and the greens should only be added at the last minute. If you cook them for too long they may go slimy and bitter.
So there we are: not "authentic"; didn't follow any recipe - but we liked it. Easy to make, full of flavour and concocted primarily from whatever was available...That has to be a winner.