I overcooked the shit out of a turkey a couple of months ago.
My apologizes for the flagrant profanity in the very first sentence of this post, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary based on how dried out that damn turkey was. It was inedible in its current form. Really, really terrible. The worst I’ve ever had.
Have I mentioned that I worked at the Butterball Turkey Talk Line this year, and that I helped hundreds and hundreds of people successfully cook their birds? The irony is not lost on me. This overcooked-is-an-understatement turkey happened well after the Turkey Talk Line closed for the season.
Now, I’ve cooked plenty of crispy-skinned, juicy turkeys in my past. In my own defense, I was using a meat thermometer that had somehow gotten waaaaaaay out of calibration. But I didn’t know that until it was way too late. And once a turkey is overdone, it’s overdone. And it’s all downhill from there. The USDA, Butterball, and anyone who understands food science agree that white meat is done at 165°F.
By the time I realized what was happening and checked the turkey with an alternate thermometer, the breast meat was registering north of 190°F. Nasty.
We choked down a couple of dry slices (aided by a lot of wine to help it go down), turned the carcass into turkey stock, and shoved the rest of the
jerky meat into the back of the freezer. I couldn’t bear to throw it all away. What a waste that would be.
It’s been taking up space for a while, now, so today I decided to do something about it. I figured the only palatable way to use up this meat would be in soup form, since the broth would cover up the dryness. I love the flavors of a coconut curry soup, which is awesome with chicken or shrimp. As it turns out, it’s also excellent with turkey, even if it’s dryer than melba toast. Of course, it would be even more slurp-able with perfectly cooked turkey. 165°F in the breast and 180°F in the thigh – temperatures to live by!
And for the love of good-eating, check your meat thermometer before you start cooking to make sure that it’s accurate. It’s easy to do. Place the probe in boiling water. It should read 212°F, but if it is higher or lower, you can adjust your readings accordingly.
Thai Coconut Curry Turkey Soup
This soup is delicious with turkey stock and turkey meat, but if you have chicken meat and chicken stock on hand, that will also work well. Substitute vegetable stock and shrimp for a vegetarian version.
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons red curry paste
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
4 cups turkey stock
1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2-3 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (or more if you’re a thrill-seeker)
2 cups finely shredded cooked turkey (leftovers work great)
7 oz. rice noodles
juice of a lime
For color and crunch: thinly sliced sugar snap peas, green onions and radishes, fresh cilantro, and lime wedges
In a large pot, saute the red pepper, carrot, and onion with canola oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the curry paste, sliced garlic, and ginger and continue stirring until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add the turkey stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, and Sriracha and stir until well combined. Adjust flavor by adding additional fish sauce for saltiness and Sriracha for heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the cooked turkey and lime juice, and simmer.
While the soup is simmering, cook and drain the rice noodles according to the package directions.*
Pile about 1/2 cup of cooked noodles into the bottom of a bowl. Ladle soup over the top of the noodles. Sprinkle with sliced sugar snap peas, green onions, radishes, and fresh cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Makes about 6 servings.
*If you plan to serve all of the soup at once, feel free to throw the rice noodles directly into the soup pot to cook. If you will be saving some of the soup for later, make the noodles as instructed above, and refrigerate them separately from the soup so that they don’t get mushy.