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Pho: The Long Goodbye to the Thanksgiving Turkey

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

What did you do with the Thanksgiving turkey carcass? If you still have yours, try what I did: make delicious faux pho. But you have to make this noodle soup today.

According to USDA, avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, to be exact).

I call this “faux” pho because it takes all sorts of liberties atypical of the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, using turkey instead of beef or chicken, skipping the charring of onions and ginger, and ending up without the characteristic, clear broth.

Still, it’s “pho” to me, because the result is a delectable soup with rice vermicelli and served with the conventional condiments of Thai basil and cilantro sprigs, beansprouts. jalapeno slices and lime wedges. It’s a refreshing change from the fat-laden Thanksgiving feast.

This recipe may look daunting at first, but really, it’s not. First you make the stock, then you cook the noodles, prep some garnishes and you’re good to go.

If you can’t make this recipe in time to meet USDA food safety guidelines for Thanksgiving leftovers, you can simmer 7 cups of commercial chicken broth with the spices and fish sauce for a half hour or so, then continue with making the soup, using some shredded, freshly roasted chicken instead of Thanksgiving turkey shreds.

Faux Pho with Thanksgiving Turkey

1 turkey carcass, neck, wings and leg bones
2 carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 onion, cut in chunks
1-inch piece of ginger
2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
6 cloves
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick

1 package (14 ounces) dried thin rice vermicelli
½ pound beansprouts
1 bunch Thai basil, separated into sprigs
1 bunch cilantro, separated into sprigs
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut in quarters
2 cups shredded turkey from the carcass (see note)
¼ cup sliced green onion

TO MAKE STOCK: Heat oven to 450⁰F. Break up turkey carcass. Add to rimmed sheet pan or roasting pan, along with turkey neck, wings and leg bones; roast in a single layer until browned, about 20 to 25 minutes; remove to a deep pot. Add 6 cups water and bring water to a boil, then lower heat to simmer, covered, while you roast the vegetables.

Add carrots, celery. onion and ginger to the sheet pan and roast the vegetables until browned at the edges, about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to the turkey pot and continue simmering.

Add 1 cup of boiling water to sheet pan and let sit about 5 minutes to soften browned bits left on the sheet pan; then scrape up the browned bits with a spatula. Carefully pour the water and browned bits from the sheet pan into the turkey pot. Simmer, covered, for 2 ½ hours more.

Remove bones to the sheet pan and strain stock through a strainer. Taste the stock and season with salt or additional fish sauce, if needed. You should have about 7 cups stock. Pick meat off the bones and set aside.

TO MAKE SOUP: Cook rice vermicelli following package directions, just until soft, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Bring stock to simmering.

Make a plate of garnishes using the beansprouts, basil, cilantro, jalapeno and limes. Allow about 5 to 10 sprigs of each herb per person.

Divide vermicelli equally into four deep bowls. Top each bowl with ½ cup turkey shreds. Ladle stock to cover noodles. Sprinkle each bowl with 1 tablespoon green onion. Pass the plate of garnishes to add to the soup; squeeze in lime juice, to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: the turkey meat from the carcass that has been simmering for nearly 3 hours will have lost some of its meaty flavor; I happen to like it. If you prefer, you can shred some leftover roast turkey instead of using the meat that has been simmering for stock.

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