Today, Governor Pawlenty and I face a similar challenge: what to do with the carcass?

I’m talking turkey, of course. Literally. My dilemma concerns yesterday’s Thanksgiving turkey; Pawlenty’s turkey is Lt. Governor/Minnesota Transportation Department Commissioner Carol Molnau.

Opinion: Leftovers

Molnau is the albatross around Pawlenty’s neck. Everyday, we seem to find another facet of MNDOT’s dysfunctionality. Clearly change is needed and, equally clearly, change is coming. Does Pawlenty toss the carcass into the garbage or pursue another option?

I can’t speak for Governor Pawlenty but I’m making soup.

I’m a big turkey-wild rice soup fan. I generally use the old Walker Art Center Gallery Eight cookbook recipe. Its cream and butter heavy but judiciously substituting evaporated condensed skim milk reins fat content without losing mouth-feel.

Earlier this week, Minnesota 2020’s Made in Minnesota Gift Guide featured hand-harvested wild rice from the White Earth Nation. Pair that with free-range, Minnesota-grown heritage turkey leftovers and you’re making soup for the ages.

Great soup, though, begins with great stock.

First, remove and reserve leftover turkey meat. Break apart carcass and place in a large stockpot, filling I with cold water. Cover and bring to a very gentle boil. Lower heat to a bare simmer and set lid ajar. Simmer for two hours. Skim foam as necessary.

Add a large onion, three or four celery ribs, and a couple of carrots, roughly chopped. Halve and add two garlic gloves, 6-8 parsley stems and 8 or ten pepper corns. Simmer for an additional hour.

Some folks like to add a spice sachet of 1/4 teaspoon each of thyme, tarragon, basil and oregano. I can take it or leave it but if you choose this road, a tea ball infuser generally works as well as a cheesecloth square.

Remove from heat and strain through a cheesecloth lined colander. If using immediately, skim fat, otherwise chill stock promptly. I freeze my excess turkey stock in quart zip-top bags.

Governor Pawlenty will, I suppose, make soup from Commissioner/Lt. Governor Molnau’s political carcass. He faces a February 12, 2008 deadline, the legislative session’s opening.

State Senate Transportation Chair Steve Murphy has publicly declared that he has the votes to reject Molnau’s long overdue MNDOT confirmation, effectively removing her from her appointed office.

Pawlenty is too good of a politician to get rolled by this situation, though. I predict that he will turn it to his advantage with the legislature playing an unwitting support role. The “how” becomes our holiday season/new year drama.

In the meantime, make stock then make turkey-wild rice soup, symbolic of the policy choices before us. Minnesota 2020’s mission is to move Minnesota forward. Soup puts us on solid ground. It’s sensible, tasty, filling, nutritious, and flexible.

After all, when presented with a carcass, what’s the logical next step?