Newly wed and naive, cook finds first turkey trying

25 Nov Newly wed and naive, cook finds first turkey trying

Newly wed and naive, cook finds first turkey trying


I’ll never forget cooking my first turkey. Young and newly married, naïve and optimistic, I remember thinking, how hard could this be, as I pulled the thawed turkey from the fridge.People have been thawing these birds, pulling out the bags, throwing them in the oven and

merely waiting for the button to pop for years, right?

After all, I’d grown up watch­ing my ever-capable mom whip

the Butterball into the oven without a second thought, Thanksgiving after Thanksgiv­ing. Nothing to it, it seemed to me.

My grandpa generously had given me a turkey to roast for this particular Sunday dinner, and I, thinking a turkey’s a turkey, had mindlessly slid it into the refrigerator to thaw

until Sunday morning when it was time to prep the poultry.

Taking it out of the refrigera­tor, I flipped the thawed turkey into the sink for a quick once­over. Yikes! Was that a neck? I asked myself as a flap of loose turkey flesh slapped the bottom of the sink with a thud. I peeked inside and quickly discovered this oddball bird was no Butter­ball. I was in trouble.

I picked up the phone, quick­ly dialing Mom for help. “What in the world do I do with this thing?” I asked in a panic.

“Just reach in and pull out the bag,” she said calmly.

Right. The bag. What bag? I sheepishly reached in and fished

around, hoping to find some­thing resembling a bag, but instead discovered all internal organs intact, slightly frozen and adhered to the interior walls of the turkey. I could not believe this was happening to me.

“No bag, Mom,” I reported into the phone.

“Oh, honey, of course there’s a bag. It’s got the giblets and the gizzards in it for the gravy, but you take it out before you put the turkey in the oven.”

“Nope, no bag, Mom, and no button that pops up when it’s done. He has a neck and organs and everything. Where did this

thing come from anyway?”

“Oh, Grandpa won it at a bingo game,” I remember hear­ing over the phone. The words echoed in my ear, “Grandpa won it at a bingo game.” Was she kid­ding? This was clearly not what I had in mind for my first turkey roast, and I surely hadn’t allowed for all the time it was going to take to get this turkey in shape to bake before we went to church in less than an hour!

But, alas, there was no getting around it. The whole family was coming to our house for turkey dinner that evening, and the crude creature sprawled out in our sink was the turkey we would serve.

Of course, not before I had to saw and tug and pull out the innards and rinse that bird and stuff and baste and roast that beast for hours.

At long last, I remember clos­ing the oven door and making a silent vow not to have even one bite of that revolting bird. I recall sliding into the pew at church, feeling a bit queasy after the full-on fowl fiasco and won­dering how in the world anyone was going to enjoy that thing.

But somehow they did, moist delicious roast bingo prize turkey that it was.

The offensive ordeal soured me on the whole idea of baking a turkey, however. I can’t say I’ve done more than two additional turkeys in the almost 15 years we’ve been married since my unfortunate initiation. “Thank God for Mom” is all I can say every Thanksgiving she offers to bake the big bird.

Ah, the traditional Thanksgiv­ing turkey: brined, basted, baked and carved for your Thanksgiv­ing dining pleasure, but then what? Dishes galore piled high in the kitchen sink and the vestige of the turkey lingering on the cutting board. What to do with the leftovers?

Here’s hoping you’re roasting a perfectly-prepped-pull-out-the­bag- and-go Butterball turkey this year. And if you happen to end up with more turkey than you can eat on Thanksgiving, here are some recipes to make the most of the leftover turkey lurk­ing in the fridge.





Make Cranberry Brie Crisps Preheat oven to 500°. Line a bak­ing sheet with parchment paper.

Cut a brie wedge in ½-inch slices leaving rind intact. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon dried cranberries in a line over each brie slice and 1 teaspoon sliced almonds next to cranberries. Bake for six to eight minutes until brie is bubbly and melted. Remove from parchment and cool on a cooling rack.



In a pint jar combine: 2 table­spoons balsamic vinegar, 1 table­spoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream, 1 tea­spoon honey and salt and pep­per, to taste. Replace lid and shake to combine.

Toss mixed greens with Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette and mound on salad plates. Top with strips of sliced turkey, crumbled blue cheese, crumbled bacon, sliced tomatoes and sliced hard-cooked eggs. Garnish each salad with a cranberry brie crisp.

BASIL PESTO TURKEY SANDWICHES 2 cups cooked turkey, cut in small pieces 1/3 cup real mayonnaise 2 tsp. (or more) squeeze basil (in the produce department) Salt, to taste 6 large fresh basil leaves 4 slices whole wheat bread Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Combine turkey, mayonnaise and squeeze basil and mix thor­oughly. Season with salt to taste.

Line bread slices with fresh basil leaves.

Top with basil pesto turkey mixture and make sandwiches.

Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, if desired.

Makes two sandwiches.




Make turkey filling: In a large bowl mix together: 2 cups cooked turkey, ½ cup chopped green chiles, 1½ cups sour cream, 1 teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cumin.

Fill eight flour tortillas with turkey filling. Mix together 1 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese and ½ cup grated Pepper Jack cheese. Sprinkle cheese on top of turkey filling on each tortilla.

Roll tightly and place seam side down in a buttered baking 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Pour two cups heavy whipping cream over the top of the rolled enchiladas in the pan. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and sprinkle and additional 1 tablespoon chili powder over the top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Uncover when ready to bake.

Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 min­utes, until heated through and bubbly.




In a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium high heat, com­bine: 4 cups diced cooked turkey meat, 2 16-ounce can white beans (cannellini), drained, 6 cups chicken stock, 2 cloves gar­lic, minced, ½ cup chopped green chiles, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 2 tea­spoons oregano. Simmer gently until heated through. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a drizzle of salsa and crushed tortilla chips on top.




In a medium mixing bowl, combine: ½ cup real mayon­naise, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add 2 cups cooked diced turkey meat, 1 apple, chopped, ½ cup celery, sliced thinly, ½ cup green grapes, sliced and ½ cup chopped walnuts.

Cut pita breads in half, tuck a butter lettuce leaf in each and fill with Turkey-Waldorf Salad.




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