Thursday, December 30, 2010

Leftovers, oh how I love thee...

Oh leftovers, how I love thee.  Just when you think your Christmas roast has given all it has to give, it morphs into something even yummier!  Mr J was inspired by the zip-lock bag of juicy remaindered pork spit roast to make some wonderful pork rillettes, which will be the subject of a boy-blog at a future date.  Meanwhile, I tackled the remains of my Mum's roast turkey.  I'd remembered a Delicious Magazine recipe I have been dying to try for ages.  Every time I'd seen it in the book it had looked so (unhealthily) irresistible, but I'd never had any cooked roast turkey meat lying about.  But this time, aha!  I did indeed have a whole pile of turkey just staring at me from the fridge.  It was time.  Time for turkey pasta bake.

Unfortunately, the inspiration to make this dish struck me very late in the afternoon on a day when the shops were very definitely not open, so it was a matter of make do and mend with the recipe's ingredients.  As a result, I have made a somewhat different version of the bake, but it was very very yummy nonetheless.  A little too delicious for something that has so much butter and cream involved.

Leftover Turkey Pasta Bake


-  500 g diced cooked turkey meat
-  95 g butter (I prefer salted, but feel free and get unsalted if that's your thing)
-  50 g plain flour
-  850 ml chicken stock
-  1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-  200 ml thickened cream
-  200 g pasta (I used farfalle, but whatever you have would be just fine)
-  2 tsp lemon zest
-  juice of 1/2 a lemon
-  1/2 tbsp olive oil
-  200 g sliced mushrooms
-  2 cups baby spinach
-  60 ml white wine
-  2 tsp thyme, chopped
-  50 g flaked almonds
-  50 g grated parmesan  (please, please not the pre-grated, processed stuff - yuck yuck yuck)

I started off heating up my oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Meanwhile I heated up some water to cook up the pasta (with a splodge of olive oil to make sure the pasta doesn't stick while it cooks).   When it was boiling I dumped in the farfalle - I think it would probably look more yummy with macaroni, but it doesn't make a bit of difference to the taste.

While the pasta is bubbling away, melt 75g of the butter in a saucepan on a medium-low heat then add in the plain flour, stirring until it looks like a thick, lemony paste.

Stir for about 2 minutes, presumably to cook out the floury taste, and then whisk in the stock (and whisking really does work better than stirring - I tried stirring and failed dismally).  When it's good and combined bring the lot to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and leave it to cook away for 5 minutes.  Remember to stir constantly so it doesn't stick on the bottom of the pot, which is a pain in the rear to clean up.  Throw in the nutmeg, the lemon zest and the cream, and then simmer for another 5 minutes.  Salt to taste (I used truffle salt which was wonderfully aromatic, but not everyone has that to hand).  When it's done, turn off the heat and leave well enough alone.

The pasta should be good and ready by now - don't forget to keep checking it while you're doing your pseudo-bechamel sauce with the butter and the flour and the cream!  Tip the cooked pasta out into a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the pasta from cooking further and getting too mushy for it's own deliciousness. Then tip in the olive oil and stir to make sure nothing sticks while you finish off the rest of the dish.

Meanwhile, liberate a medium-sized frypan from your pots-and-pans drawer.  Pop it on a medium-heat and add in 20g of butter you have left.  When it's melted, throw in the sliced mushrooms and toss about until they're brown and starting to shrink a little.  I ended up throwing in a little bit of olive oil to assist, as I found this a little dry without it.  This should take about 2 minutes, then throw in the cooked baby spinach, the wine and lemon juice.  Cook a bit longer, until the spinach is wilted properly.

The best bit about all this fuss, is how you chuck all these various bits and pieces you've been juggling into a large bowl - the creamy bechamel, the pasta and the mushrooms-and-spinach.  Mix it up with the turkey pieces and the thyme and then spread it out in a large lasagne dish or baking tray.  Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top, then grate the parmesan and pop it straight into the oven.  30 minutes and you are ready to eat.  Tasty, tasty leftovers.  And the best bit is, for the vegos out there, throw in more mushrooms and spinach, maybe even some baked sweet-potato or pumpkin, and you've got yourself one hell of a dish.

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