Sunday, January 12, 2014

Turkey leftovers: just add cream ...

"I'm a cream fan," Simone Beck wrote in one of her cookbooks -- I think it was Food and Friends -- explaining that a spoonful or two of cream adds flavor and body to all kinds of sauces and stews, without overwhelming anything else (as olive oil might) or adding exorbitant calories (as butter would).

I'll take her up on her enthusiasm, and offer to you today a dish rich with cream plus a few of cream's best friends -- then again, what is not a friend of cream? -- apples, cider, and poultry. The original comes from The Gourmet's Guide to French Cooking by Alison Burt, published by Octopus Books in London in 1973. This was another library book sale cast-off, as you may guess. The recipe is called poulet à la vallée d'Auge, chicken in the style of the Auge valley (in Normandy). It asks us to braise chicken pieces with apples in butter and then finish them in a cider and cream sauce in the oven. All fine, but we'll use your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers in place of chicken, thus achieving the point of putting cooked poultry into a sauce, because apart from other reasons the Miss Burt's concoction is, to my mind, overfussy with multiple sautéeings of multiple apples, and multiple separate simmerings of cider-and-apples, when one doing of each task would have sufficed

So let us begin. You have ready -- and you are ready to adjust the proportions of, so that neither apples, soupy cider sauce, nor meat predominate -- 
Leftover holiday bird of your choice, dark meat or white, whole pieces or diced meat
4-5 Tablespoons butter
5-6 firm tart apples, peeled, cored, chopped
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups hard cider -- the good alcoholic stuff, not sweet cider
2/3 cup heavy cream
bouquet garni -- a bundle of herbs tied together and allowed to float freely in a sauce, the bundle to include bay leaf, thyme, and parsley

So simple.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the apples, salt and pepper them lightly, and fry until they begin to soften and brown a little. Add the flour, and stir and cook until the flour bubbles up into a paste and begins to color slightly. Stir in the cider, bring to a boil, add the bouquet garni, and simmer for about half an hour, allowing the flavors to meld. If you happen to have any drippings from your roast turkey, or any chicken or turkey broth on hand, a quarter cup or so of either would not be amiss in the sauce.

Pour in the cream, and stir and return to a gentle simmer. Add the leftover turkey. Continue simmering until everything is heated through. Fish out the bouquet garni, adjust the seasonings, and serve.  

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