Turkey Stew Polenta

Believe it or not, I’m still reheating Thanksgiving…

Leftover leftovers:
Turkey Polenta Cakes, served with salsa and guacamole

Turkey Polenta Cakes

A decidedly American take on the classic Italian dish

  • 1 cup onion, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms, mixed varieties
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • a couple cups of leftover turkey, picked from the bones and/or cut into small pieces
  • 4 cups turkey stock, made from the carcass of your Thanksgiving bird
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, divided
  • salt, pepper, ginger, and crushed red pepperto taste
  1. Heat a large (#10) cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add about 2 Tbl butter along with some black pepper and ginger. Let the butter melt, then add your diced onion and about 1/4 tsp kosher salt.
  2. Cook the onion for about 7-8 minutes or until the onion has started to brown at the edges, stirring about once per minute.
  3. Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes, stirring 2-3 times.
  4. Add 2 Tbl butter, let melt.
  5. Add the sliced mushrooms, along with some ginger and a touch of crushed red pepper. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring 1-2 times per minute. Pay more attention to the mushrooms the longer they cook. We’re looking for them to caramelize nicely but not to scorch or burn.
  6. When the mushrooms look gorgeous, add the turkey stock and bring it to a boil.
  7. Once he stock is at a rolling boil, whisk the cornmeal in at a steady drizzle. Add it slowly and keep that whisk moving in order to avoid lumps!
  8. Once the cornmeal has been incorporated evenly into the stock, turn the heat down to a simmer and add the shredded carrots into the pan. Cook at low heat, stirrign occasionally, for 30-40 minutes.
  9. At this point, you’ve got a really tasty cornmeal mush. I highly recommend taking a couple bowlfuls out for a meal or a side dish for today’s meal, because the polenta has to cool overnight before it’s ready to be made into the cakes (now you get what I meant above by leftover leftovers.). Plus this mush is delicious—it’s like turkey stew and biscuits all in one steaming bowl of goodness!
  10. Let the rest of the polenta cool or 20-30 minutes, then use a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the entire pan to press it down to uniform depth.
  11. Let it cool a while longer to room temperature, then run a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan and invert the pan onto a clean countertop (with the parchment still in place). The polenta should drop out of the pan onto the parchment. Wrap it up and refrigerate it overnight.
  12. Day two, cut the polenta into cakes. Heat your skillet (which you should have cleaned in the meantime) over medium heat. Add 2 Tbl butter to the pan, let it melt. Cook half of the cakes in this butter, flipping after 5-6 minutes or when golden brown and cooking the other side for another 5-6 minutes. Remove to a sheet tray in a warm (200°) oven while you cook the other half of the cakes in the other 2 Tbl of butter.
  13. Serve with salsa and guacamole or your favorite condiments.

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