Jook (Chinese Rice Porridge)

I’m not sure what other families do with the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving. Make turkey soup? Donate it to the pet dogs? Throw it away?

In our family we have a post-Thanksgiving tradition of cooking and eating a huge pot of jook. Jook (also known as congee) is a Chinese savory rice porridge that is made from the turkey carcass and meat leftovers. Doing anything other than making jook the day after Thanksgiving would be a cardinal sin among my family.

Jook is beautiful in its simplicity. It is essentially rice, broth, and meat simmered gently to a thick soup. It also takes some patience, needing a few hours of simmering and stirring. While the jook cooks, feel free to play mah jong, listen to the grandparents reminisce about old times, and watch football on TV. That’s how we do it as we recuperate from Thanksgiving. Jook is Chinese comfort, it is home, it is family.

Jook

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1 leftover turkey (or chicken) carcass
1 cup uncooked rice
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 (1/2 inch) piece of ginger, peeled
Green onions, chopped (optional)

Ham, cooked and diced (optional)

Place turkey carcass in a large pot, and cover with water. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove pot from heat. Carefully pour broth into a colander set atop a stock pot, reserving bones and meat. Set bones aside. Wash rice, and put into the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, and turn heat to low. Partly cover pot, and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, remove all bits of turkey meat from bones. Shred meat to bite-size pieces. Add meat, ginger, and salt to the pot, and simmer for another hour. Jook should have a creamy porridge-like consistency, like loose oatmeal. If it becomes very thick, add some water. Season with more salt to taste. Serve in individual bowls, and garnish with green onions or ham if desired.

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