If you read my last post, you may remember that we aren't big fans of the traditional turkey dinner around here (because it's so much work!), choosing instead to have salmon for our special Thanksgiving meal. A few years ago - before that fateful Thanksgiving when the turkey was still frozen, the stuffing was mushy, the potatoes were lumpy and we looked at each other, shook our heads and asked "why are we doing this?" - I was experimenting with some creative ways to use turkey leftovers.
The recipe below, which I've called Thanksgiving Biryani is a really tasty way to fuse South Asian flavours with an all-time favourite North American turkey dinner. Except now I use either turkey or chicken and make this dish year round. It is hearty, flavourful and very quick to make.
What you'll need:
- Chicken or Turkey (I used half of a roasted chicken from the local grocer's this time, both the light and the dark meat)
- 2 cups of rice (I use parboiled basmati rice)
- 2 boxes of StoveTop stuffing (or homemade leftovers if you have them)
- 2 tbsp organic coconut oil
- 6 medium, or 3 large onions
- 5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ground each of ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala and red chilli powder
- Vegetable or chicken stock (quantity will depend on how the type of rice you use, but for parboiled basmati rice I used 4.5 cups of stock)
Preheat oven to 425F.
Begin by heating up your frying pan on the burner. Add in the coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala and red chilli powder and let gently roast to release the flavour and fragrance. Stir constantly because the idea here is not to burn the spices, but just to gently release their flavour. Continue by sautéing the onions and garlic in coconut oil in the same pan as the gently dry roasted spices. I sauté the onions and garlic for a really long time - sometimes for up to an hour - until they are so soft they can be easily cut by a fork or spoon and are completely translucent (but not brown or caramelized). This step can cause some distress in the kitchen if you're pressed for time: it is not necessary, but I find the longer you can let those onions cook, the better the meal will taste.
While the onions and garlic are sautéing, soak and rinse your rice, then finely shred your chicken (or turkey). In a separate pot, make two packages of StoveTop stuffing as per the instructions. Prepare your stock or broth.
In a large casserole dish, spread the rice across the bottom. Add the sautéed onions and garlic and mix well. Evenly distribute the shredded chicken/turkey across the rice, then gently spread the stuffing on top of the chicken and rice, being sure to cover all areas. Pour the stock into the casserole dish in slow circles so that the liquid spreads throughout the dish to cover all of the ingredients. Reserve some of the stock in case you need to add more.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil, then place in the centre rack of the oven and let cook at 425F for at least one hour. Check every 20 minutes or so to see how the rice is cooking and whether or not more stock should be added. I find that I often need to add a little bit more liquid, especially to the corners. The trick is to make sure that the rice gets fully cooked, while not turning the stuffing into a liquid mush.
Serve with a side salad of your choice. This dish is a delightfully delicious twist on traditional thanksgiving leftovers: a fragrant turkey - biryani fusion which is made unbelievably tender and moist by the layer of StoveTop stuffing.
The garnish would be a matter of personal taste preference. For a traditional flavour, one could top with cranberry sauce. For a more biryani-style garnish, one could add mint or mango chutney, or even a quick and easy yoghurt and cucumber sauce (raita).