Thanksgiving leftovers are great until you open up the refrigerator a week before Christmas and see Tupperware containers of uneaten turkey breast ready for the trashcan. At the same time, there are only so many turkey sandwiches that one can eat. When it comes down to divvying up leftover turkey in my family, I usually go for the carcass only. I use it to make stock that can be frozen and used later. This year, I also picked up a drumstick – BONUS! My aunt took the turkey wings and told me she was making congee (jook in Cantonese). I thought it was a great idea and wanted to do the same.
Congee is a rice porridge that is made throughout Asia with a variety of additional ingredients. When I was young, my parents would start cooking the congee late at night and we would have it for breakfast the next day with fresh ginger, scallion, white pepper. It was simply, delicious and perfect on a cold winter morning.
In this recipe, I started with a turkey stock instead of water to provide additional flavor. I chose brown rice, honestly, because that’s what I had in the apartment. However, it is healthier and I like its nutty flavor, so I’m not upset.
Turkey Congee ~makes 3 hearty servings
Turkey carcass (whatever bones left over from the roasted turkey with whatever meat is still left on)
1 medium yellow onion
1 knob of ginger (about the size of your thumb)
2 tbsp oil
1 cup brown rice
1 turkey drumstick
10 cups turkey stock
scallion – for garnish
ginger – for garnish
white pepper powder to taste
salt to taste
– Break up the carcass into pieces that can fit comfortably into a big pot
– Chop up onion into big pieces
– Slice ginger
– Sweat onion in pot with oil, no color. Then add carcass, ginger and at least 10 cups of water and enough to cover the bones
– Bring to a boil and turn flame to low. Keep at a simmer and let cook for 1 hour
– Strain and reserve liquid. Discard solids
– Rinse brown rice under cold water. Discard water and repeat until water runs clear
– In a heavy bottom pot, put in rice, drumstick, and 8 cups of the stock to start
*a quick note about the drumstick – any meat will do. I prefer dark meat because it is more flavorful but wings would be great too, if you chop off the wing tip. I don’t recommend a part with small bones because they will be hard to get out of the congee
– Bring to a boil and turn flame to low. Let simmer (some bubbles) covered, stirring frequently, until the brown rice breaks apart and congee becomes creamy – about 2 hours (I found that brown rice didn’t break down as much as white rice, but that’s okay)
– Remove any bones in the congee. Shred the bigger pieces of meat and put back into congee.
– Adjust congee to desired thickness by either cooking away some of the moisture or adding some more stock
– Season with salt to taste
– Thinly slice scallion, and fine julienne ginger
– Top a bowl of congee off with garnish and white pepper powder
Results – the turkey stock really amped up the flavor of the congee. Some of the best I’ve ever had (sorry mom). I’m very happy with the results. The brown rice required more water than I thought it would but it came out well.
Afterthoughts – congee is versatile and its something that I haven’t really explored. Different flavors or even different grains can lead to interesting combinations. Forbidden rice congee? Squid ink seafood congee?