Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving in a cup

This was a collaboration. When SP and I were discussing what she wanted to serve, she requested something that would provide all the flavors of Thanksgiving dinner in one small package, and that could easily be eaten standing up. I went away and cogitated, and this was the result. They were a big, big hit.

Thanksgiving turkey salad in wonton cups
The idea for wonton cups came from the endlessly inspirational Dinner with Julie. I baked the wonton cups two days ahead of time and sealed them in heavy-duty zipper storage bags, ready for stuffing at the last moment. They were perfect on the day (aside from the two that got crushed in transit).

This recipe has quite a few steps and ingredients, but none are difficult—it just takes time and a bit of planning.

96 wontons
4 cups stock or water
2 cloves garlic, peeled
6 sticks celery
4 turkey breasts
1 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp bacon fat or butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup white wine
2 cups turkey stock
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2-3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1-2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper

To make the wonton cups: press wontons into mini-muffin tins, making sure to firmly press folds against the sides and keep overflow from flopping over on itself. Bake in a 350F/180C oven for 10-20 minutes, or until golden. Set aside to cool.

To prepare the turkey: bring stock or water and garlic to a simmer. Add the turkey breasts, then chop and add 2 of the celery sticks. Poach until fully cooked. (I did this in the slow cooker, and left them in for about 2 hours.) When ready, remove from heat, place in a storage container and pour some of the poaching liquid over, and refrigerate. (I did this the day before.) Reserve the rest of the poaching liquid: you will need it for the next two steps.

To prepare the cranberries: place the cranberries in a heatproof bowl or jug, and pour the hot poaching liquid over. Set aside to steep until plump and juicy.

To prepare the bread sauce: in a small saucepan on medium heat, melt bacon fat. Add flour and stir to combine; cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously, or until the flour starts to smell cooked. Add wine and continue stirring, then stock—more stirring. Bring mixture just to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the gravy has begun to thicken up. Add bread crumbs and stir to combine, then leave to simmer until a thick sauce forms. Season with salt & pepper to taste and set aside. (I made this the day before also, and by the day of the event it had cooled to a solid mass.)

When ready to assemble the salad: first dice the turkey into small chunks and place in a large bowl. Chop the remaining 4 celery sticks and add to the turkey, then drain and add the steeped cranberries in ½-cup measures until you have an amount that you consider sufficient. Add chunks of the bread sauce and begin turning to mix thoroughly. Continue adding cranberries and bread sauce to achieve a proportional mix of ingredients that makes you happy. Add mayonnaise and mustard to bind, and salt & pepper to taste.

To assemble the cups: stuff each wonton cup with a heaping teaspoon of salad. Makes 96 wontons, with enough turkey salad left over for a couple of sandwiches.

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