Sunday, November 27, 2011
Thanksgiving Aftermath - Three Tips for Dry Leftover Turkey
So it's been a few days since you carved up the big bird. When you reheat that once-juicy white meat, though, you're left with something dry as a bone, and quite likely to induce hiccups. Usually, most people just cover it over in gloppy, leftover gravy, or slather on another can of jellied cranberry so they can wolf down the once delicious turkey without ill effect. Your refrigerator is, by necessity, a cool, dry place. In this type of environment, your food is going to start to dry out in any container short of a vacuum bag (and even then, you'll still lose a little). After a few days, you'll probably still have more turkey than you know what to do with, and it's starting to look about as juicy and palatable as an ancient Egyptian head-of-state after a few thousand years in bandages. There is hope though- there are options to resurrect that near-mummified turkey in your fridge and return it to some semblance of it's former glory...
Trick #1 - Steam it.
Most people reheat food in the microwave. They also forget that a microwave oven is essentially a contraption that causes the water locked in foods to heat up rapidly. This means that if you take an already half-dry item, and nuke it, you'll probably cause most of that remaining moisture to escape as steam. The solution? Reheat your turkey in a wet environment. If you have a pot with a steamer basket, use it to reheat your turkey, and use either plain old water, or chicken/turkey stock. You'll be sure to help re-hydrate your meat, and maybe even add a small dose of additional flavor in the process.
Trick #2 - Soak it, and heat it in Stock.
Another idea is to take some fresh chicken or turkey stock, and soak your turkey before re-heating it. The advantage here is that this will work in the microwave, without needing any special gear, or the need to wait while a pot of water or stock heats up. Just put your turkey in a bowl, or other microwave-safe container, and pour some stock over it. Use enough that your turkey is sitting in a nice pool of liquid. Let it sit there and soak it in for a few minutes, then flip the turkey over, and let the other side soak for a few minutes. When you're happy with the soaking process, pop the whole thing in the microwave, excess stock and all, and re-heat it. The end result should be similar to trick #1 - any lost moisture will be replaced.
Trick #3 - When in doubt, add butter.
This is my favorite method, and the easiest. When your turkey dries out, you've lost fats as well as water. Since fat equals flavor, it's only natural that you'd want to make up for any lost fats/oils. Simply lay out your turkey on a plate, and drizzle it with a little neutral flavored oil such as vegetable oil, or canola oil. (You can use olive oil too, but be prepared, it will add that distinct olive oil flavor to the meat- which you may or may not want!). When you reheat the turkey in the microwave, the oil will be absorbed and make the meat moist. Of course, you can take this idea to it's logical conclusion- if oil is good, Butter Is Better! garnish your turkey with a few dabs of butter before reheating. OK, so you health conscious people can use margarine, but butter just tastes better.