Every year I see dozens of amazing recipes to use up Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. But let’s face it, after hosting a large dinner party, the last thing I want to do is forge ahead with a really complicated recipe when I’m trying to recover. Thanksgiving hangovers are real. And if you get them too, I hear you! This Turkey Congee is here to the rescue. It solves almost all of the problems that hit after Thanksgiving: too much leftover turkey (check), too tired to do much (check), people to feed still in the house (check), need something easy and economical (check).
Don’t Throw Out The Carcass
As lazy as I want to be once the Thanksgiving meal is over, it kills me to let perfectly good ingredients go to waste. And if you’ve spent hours brining, basting, and roasting an expensive bird, you would be crazy to throw out the leftovers, right? More importantly, I think the best part of leftovers is often overlooked, the turkey carcass.
The turkey carcass might be one of my favorite parts of the turkey, because with almost no effort, it makes the most intense and savory broth. Before you scoff, you should know that homemade broth is like liquid gold. It transforms any dish from good to amazing. Without a doubt, the clean, umami rich flavor of a homemade broth is both sublime and unmistakeable. No matter how beat I am at the end of the feast, I always make the effort to start my turkey broth. It’s fast and so easy, just simmering away on the stove as we all sit around, relax, and digest.
Once the broth is done, you can freeze it as a quick jump to a future soup or use it the next day to make the ultimate hangover food, Turkey Congee. Congee is a traditional Chinese dish. It consists of rice cooked down until it is a soft, porridge consistency. Congee is frequently enjoyed as breakfast with various toppings. It’s warm, soothing, and filling; plus rice is easy to digest, which is perfect after a heavy meal, a rough night, or both! A straightforward one pot breakfast/brunch to use up leftovers and feed any lingering family member is the perfect post Thanksgiving solution.
Let’s Get Cooking!
Make the Turkey Congee Stock
Our congee starts with a rich stock. Like oatmeal or grits, Congee is often made with just water, which is simple but a little bland. For this reason, I prefer starting with a flavorful liquid, which takes it to another level. Stocks are so easy to make; they are almost entirely hands off. They do require some time as a deeply flavored bone stock takes hours of simmering. But a good homemade stock is one of the reasons why food in restaurants is so flavorful.
For this turkey stock, I put the entire turkey carcass in a heavy duty dutch oven and then I just toss in the onion, ginger, and garlic and cover with water. Then I just bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 2-3 hours until the stock is a rich, amber color. Strain any impurities occasionally to keep the broth clear (but if you’re using the broth for this congee, you don’t even need to do that since no one will notice it with the thick rice). You can also do this in an Instant Pot as well. Just set it to High Pressure for 1.5 hours.
Then I strain the stock and refrigerate it. I like to make the stock for Turkey Congee the day before so that my meal prep only takes a half hour the next day.
What’s the Difference Between Stocks and Broths?
Speaking of stocks and broths, technically stocks are made mostly of bones and broths are made with more meat but the terms are pretty much used interchangeably. Theoretically, stocks are supposed to be more viscous due to the long simmering and gelatin released from the bones, whereas broths are more meaty in flavor. But realistically, if you are not making it yourself, and want to buy some, there is very little difference I’ve seen between the two at stores.
Cooking the Congee
Once the stock is made, the actual Turkey Congee comes together quickly. Cook down the onions, letting them get a little charred for added flavor. Throw in the julienned ginger. Add your amazing homemade stock, salt and pepper, the leftover diced turkey, and the rice and let it simmer until it starts to break down to a creamy, oatmeal consistency.
Because I always like to sneak in some veggies, I add in a bit of spinach which also adds a nice pop of color. Then taste for seasoning, and add your toppings. I like to use herbs and scallions to add freshness, and fried shallots for crunch. But congee toppings can be almost anything. Red pepper flakes or a dash of chili sauce if you like it hot, a runny egg to add some richness…
My Turkey Congee is savory, comforting, and makes excellent use of Thanksgiving leftovers. If you make it, we want to know. Comment and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, show us the goods!
- Leftover Turkey Carcass
- 10 cups water
- 1 large onion, sliced in half
- 1 ounce ginger (about 1” piece), washed and smashed lightly
- 12 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- ½ large yellow onion, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons julienned ginger
- 6 cups turkey stock from above recipe
- 2 ½ cups cooked rice
- ½ –1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 pound leftover turkey meat, diced into ½ inch pieces
- 2 ounces spinach or other mild greens, roughly chopped
- small bunch scallions, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons fried shallots
Make the Stock:
- In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, break up the turkey carcass so it fits the pot. Add the water, onion, ginger, and garlic. Bring the water to a simmer over high heat. Then lower the heat to medium, cover partially with a lid, and simmer for 2-3 hours, occasionally skimming the surface for impurities.
- Strain the stock through a colander and refrigerate until ready to use. You should yield about 8 cups of stock. The stock should have a rich toffee color and turn into a gelatinous goo when refrigerated.
For the Congee:
- Heat a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the oil and the onion. Cook for 3-5 mins, stirring until the onion is soft and a little charred. Add the ginger and cook for an additional minute.
- Then add 6 cups of stock, ½ tablespoon of salt, ground white pepper, cooked rice, and the diced turkey.
- Bring the pot to a simmer and then lower heat to medium-low. Cook for 20-30 minutes covered, stirring occasionally, until the rice porridge has thickened into the consistency of oatmeal. Add the spinach and stir to wilt. Add more stock as needed or to your taste. Check the seasoning (I usually add the remaining ½ tablespoon of salt) and adjust as needed.
- Garnish each serving with some minced scallion, chopped cilantro, and fried shallots. Serve immediately.
Any leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen (without the garnish). Add a little more stock or water to loosen the consistency of leftovers.
You can also start with raw rice (1 ½ cup) if you do not have any cooked. Add the rice as you would cooked rice, but do not add the diced turkey until the rice has cooked to a nice porridge consistency, about 1 hour. Adjust the amount of liquid (about 2 additional cups of stock or water) as raw rice will absorb a lot more liquid.
Keywords: congee, turkey