Turkey chowder and cheesy bread … I would almost go to the trouble of cooking a turkey just to have that leftover carcass to make this. It’s sooo good.
Very quick directions today, because I’m feeding 15 people in a few hours (right after we all tromp through the woods in search of The Great Christmas Tree). My chowder is already in the crock pot … oh, how I love that feeling!
Okay. If you want to make this EXACTLY the way I did, here’s what you do:
1. Put every last turkey bone–plus all the bits you don’t really want to eat but can’t bear to throw out–into the biggest pot you have. Cover with water. Throw in a whole onion (no need to peel it), and the ugly parts of a celery stalk (the very end, plus all the leaves). Bring to a boil, then simmer for several hours until everything is falling apart. Strain the broth from this into another container.
2. Since it’s 35 degrees outside and there’s not an inch of room left in your fridge, set the container of broth outside on your barbecue, where you’re absolutely sure it will be safe. Check on it the next morning, when you’re ready to make the soup, and discover a raccoon has dumped your broth all over the snow. Scream, clutch your chest, stagger in disbelief, then collect the container and lid and go inside to regroup. Fortunately, you couldn’t fit all the broth in that container in the first place, so you have a little bit more in a pan you WERE able to fit in the fridge. That will have to do. (Alternately, use canned or boxed turkey broth).
3. If you’re actually using your own homemade broth, you should have a little fat which you can skim from the top. Put that in a frying pan. (If you have no turkey fat, you can use butter. Either way, you won’t need more than about 4 TBSP. Melt the fat and use it to brown 1/2-1 onion, chopped, 1/2 green bell pepper, 1/2 red bell pepper, 2 stalks celery. (I happened to have opened a jar of roasted red peppers this week, so I chopped 3 big slices of that and skipped the sauteing. Cook your veggies, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Transfer the vegetables to your crock pot with a slotted spoon.
4. Make a roux with the fat/butter that remains in your pan by adding equal parts of flour, stirring and cooking for several minutes, and then adding some of your broth to make a gravy-like consistency. Don’t worry about how much or how little because you’re going to add it all to the pot anyway. Do that now.
5. Chop up 3-5 potatoes (I’m partial to Yukon golds) and 1 yam or sweet potato. Add those to the pot. I’m not adding corn today, because one of my guests is allergic to it, but usually I would add a can of whole corn kernels (not creamed. You could add creamed, but it will change the flavor of your broth. Your call.) Add 1-2 cups chopped turkey meat.
6. If you find you don’t have enough broth, you can supplement with a little scoopable chicken bouillon (Better Than Bouillon–Costco) and water. Leave a little room at the top of your crock pot, though, because toward the end of the cooking time you’re going to add half-n-half.
7. Season to taste. I used 4 cloves of roasted garlic (I buy little trays of garlic cubes at Trader Joe’s and keep it in my fridge, but it’s very easy to roast garlic while something else is cooking in the oven. Just separate out the cloves (no need to peel), set them on a square of foil, drizzle a little olive oil over, and make a little packet from the foil. Roast for about 45 minutes), a dash of Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper.
8. Cook on high 4-5 hours or until vegetables are tender. About a half an hour before serving, add 1-2 cups half-n-half and several handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir till the cheese is melted, taste and season as needed. If the chowder isn’t as thick as you’d like it, you can make another very small batch of roux, using liquid from the chowder, and add it all back in.