Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Italian Pasta in Turkey Broth

I relish cooking during the cold weather; the over and hot plates heat the kitchen and enticing aromas fill the home.

You've probably noticed in my fall posts that my preference is for thick casseroles, stews and soups made flavorful with stock, vegetables, herbs, garlic and ginger, meat, and or beans and pulses which are rich in protein without being too rich in fatty calories.

After Thanksgiving (and then after Christmas), plump turkey wings, thighs and legs are plentiful and thus priced well.

I picked up an organic leg (pic left) from Whole Foods last week for around $5 and it made fabulous stock. As you can see I placed it in a pot of water with pieces of peeled and chopped ginger root, and a smashed clove of garlic. I simmered the leg for 2-3 hours.

Instead of making stock, a leg casseroles well with fall / winter veggies like onions, ginger root, celery, yams, turnip, and carrot. Casseroled, one chunky let will feed 3-4 people.

To casserole turkey pieces, put all the ingredients I just listed, plus a sprig of fresh thyme or sage, into a baking dish or dutch oven, add a little water or stock, and the lid, and put into a 350-degree oven for about 2 or so hours.

After Thanksgiving, I'll make stock with leftover turkey meat and bones. However, stock made from the cooked meat and bones tends not to be as flavorful as stock made from the raw meat.
So I'll use less flavorful stock to cook pasta, rice, vegetables and to add to casseroles, such as the one I mention above. (Stock made from the raw meat, I'll use to make soup.)

Pasta and rice cooked in stock is delicious. In fact, there's a wonderful Italian pasta dish which is served in chicken broth (you could use turkey stock) and topped with cracked black pepper and grated Parmesan.

Pasta in Turkey (or chicken) Stock
1) Make a turkey or chicken as in the picture, and as described above.
2) Pick the meat out of the pot and then strain the stock. Strain again through a fine sieve, removing the impurities so that the broth is clear.
3) Into a pour enough stock to cook your pasta, boil, and then add you favorite pasta, or gnocchi, or ravioli. Cook till al dente.
4) Strain pasta, return to pot and hot plate and add more stock, this time, just enough to cover the pasta, heat but don't boil.

To Serve: Ladle pasta and spoonfuls of broth into bowls. Top with cracked black pepper and grated Parmesan or your choice of a firm, dry Italian cheese.

Traditionally, this would be a starter to a main meal in Italy, since pasta is often served before the meat or fish dish. You could serve it this way or you could serve it with a side salad as a main dish or as a side to the turkey leg casserole outline above.

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