Last Friday I attended the Gunma JETs’ Thanksgiving dinner for more than 50 local JETs, other foreigners, and friends. As you can imagine, a Thanksgiving dinner for 50 is quite a spread. I’m pretty sure there were 6 (small) turkeys! Not wanting to waste, I volunteered, as in past years, to take the bones home for turkey soup. I’m sure we were quite a sight bicycling home with our two giant bags of turkey bones, an empty wine bottle, and a pair of wine glasses (not that we would bicycle after drinking wine, as, of course, it is illegal… that’s merely a coincidence).
So on Saturday morning I got to work removing any bits of meat remaining on the bones that filled a good part of my refrigerator. After that, I had to nest everything together as efficiently as I could to get them into my two largest pots. Onto the stove went the pots. I filled them to the brim with water and set them simmering.
After several hours the house smelled like Thanksgiving, and I had a quart of turkey meat and three or four quarts of very concentrated turkey stock–it’s like jello once it cools. Ordinarily I would get more stock from so many bones, but my pots are small so they were packed so full that there wasn’t much room for the water. I’m sure it won’t be a problem to dilute it with water before I use it.
And after making turkey stock all day, what would make a better dinner than turkey soup? After I strained the stock I managed to find enough meat still on the bones–but now fall-off-the-bone tender–to make a very meaty soup. And avgolemono is nice and easy. I just cooked up an onion and some celery (I don’t think it’s traditional, but it’s tasty and I had some in the fridge) in a bit of olive oil, added some rice, stock, and meat, and finally finished the soup with lemon juice, egg, and chopped dill. Although this soup is easy, the egg and rice make a thick soup that’s filling enough to enjoy as a main course. And that’s just what I did.
So next time you have leftover turkey bones, why don’t you get in the mottainai spirit and make turkey avgolemono? Of course this recipe is delicious made with chicken too. In fact, the picture above is actually a chicken avgolemono that I made this spring, but trust me, it looks almost the same.
one onion, chopped
half a stalk celery, chopped finely (optional)
one half cup uncooked rice
white wine or sake
about 6 cups homemade turkey stock (or chicken)
some turkey meat (or chicken), chopped
two bay leaves
juice from one lemon
two eggs or 4 egg yolks
handful of fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper
Heat some olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and celery. Sprinkle with some salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Add the rice and stir. Add a splash of wine or sake and stir again. Add the turkey stock, bay leaves, and turkey meat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the rice is very tender.Turn off the heat.
Put half of the lemon juice and eggs in a bowl and whisk together thoroughly; make sure that there are no bits of unincorporated egg white or they won’t make your soup creamy. If you use all egg yolks the soup will be more yellow and taste richer. Don’t use all of the lemon juice at first because you don’t want the soup to be too sour–you can always add more later. Gradually stir a few cups of hot soup together with the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Once the egg mixture is warm, add it to the pot of soup and stir well.
Add a handful of chopped dill or other green herbs like parsley and green onions. Stir soup and taste. Adjust your seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.