Friday: Turkey Rice Soup / Parmesan Crostini
Saturday: Turkey Pizza
Sunday: Shepherd’s Pie with Turkey
November 28 – December 4, 2022
Monday: Roasted Turkey Ramen (NYT, 11/27/22 – Ligaya Mishan)
Tuesday: Penne with Turkey, Pepper, and Onion and Alfredo Sauce
Wednesday: Turkey, Brie and Apple Sandwich
Thursday: Turkey, Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Mock Frites (Smashed Potatoes Baked in Oil
Friday: Turkey Tacos
Turkey For a Week and Two Days
Last week we had our bird cooked by our local club. As it turned out, we were, as I sometimes am by bartenders, over-served. I don’t know how much the bird weighed precisely, but my brother Greg and I had to carry it in from the car, slung from a pole resting on our shoulders, like Iroquois hunters bringing a deer into the village. I mean, this was a honking large turkey and there were but seven of us to eat it.So, just as El Jefe in the Three Amigos had a plethora of piñatas, we had a plethora, or perhaps a surfeit, of turkey. And that, of course, brought a sparkle to the eye of Psycho Chef – how many different meals I began to calculate, can I make from this bird which must have taken an elephant gun to bring down?
Thus, above, you will see various iterations of the turkey-centric dishes we cooked from the day after Thanksgiving right through Friday one week ago. We did not grow tired of this because the dishes were quite various and because the challenge of making something new is interesting and because we actually like turkey. And so do you, whether you admit it or not. It is as fashionable in present-day America to dislike turkey as it is to have a gluten problem. I’d like to see what a pilgrim father would have done with a snot-nosed little brat who threw a tantrum at the first Thanksgiving because, “I don’t like turkey.” I’m sure that, in addition to a good smack, the kid was told, “if you ever embarrass us in front of the Wampanoags again, you won’t know what hit you.” Of course, the Wampanoags themselves were probably remembering the time that Little Mouse had thrown a fit because he couldn’t stand pemican. But that’s neither here nor there.
What is relevant is that, cooking one thing, with variations and additions, is, in fact a great way to learn to cook really delicious food by winging it. That’s why always having rice for dinner did not lead to mass divorce in Asia, nor did cassava-based cooking in the tropics – these people learned how to make the darn thing taste good in a million different ways. In fact, divorce, in early twentieth century America, was more common among the rich, than among the poor, that is to say that people who ate steak and oysters and drank Champagne were a heck of a lot chippier than people who dined on gruel, then gruel with pork rinds, and then gruel with oxtail.
I’m not sure what got me off on that tangent – we have never eaten gruel at Casa Stuarti. On the other hand, we’re not considering divorce, in spite of the entire beds of oysters and pastures of beef we have eaten washed down by hogsheads of Champagne. Although, perhaps I should hold my tongue until our long run of turkey-based dishes is concluded. In any event, all of this stuff was good – with the shepherd’s pie and pizza being absolute socko standouts. The recipes for both are below. Oh . . . and if you’re looking for a good smoked turkey sandwich, please don’t come to our place for the next several weeks.
Timing: Dough: 2 hours to overnight Pizza: 20 minutes
Ingredients: ½ lb. of dough serves 2, 1 lb. 4
Pizza Dough – we made a double batch (1 lb.) of our typical dough for 2. Recipes for this can be found in past blogs or anywhere on the internet. A particularly simple and good recipe can be found in Marcella Hazan’s The Italian Country Table. Her dough is ready in 2 hours.
Enough shredded or chopped turkey (light or dark meat) to cover the dough to your liking.
Alfredo Sauce – make your own or use Rao’s from the jar.
After that point, we just winged it. We had bell-peppers, so we sliced them up, along with red onion. If we had had mushrooms, I would have used them – or green onions.
We had a small ball of fresh mozzarella, which we augmented with the drier, shredded mozzarella you can find in the dairy section of your market. We also grated a fair among to Romano cheese. You can use any grated cheese and you can substitute a mixture of provolone and fontina – or just fontina by itself (provolone by itself will overwhelm the other tastes) – or cheddar, which really does work well on pizzas, although it will anger any Italians who are eating at your place.
Preheat your oven to 500 F. If you use a pizza steel or stone, place that in the oven. We cook our pizzas on olive-oiled sheet pans so as to avoid the difficult, sometimes disastrous, transfer of the pizza from counter top to heated stone or steel.
Assemble the pizza:
Roll out or toss and stretch the dough to desired size or thinness – we are thin crust lovers.
Place dough on oiled sheet pan (if you use a steel or stone you know what to do without that oiled pan). Correct any folds or bunching that occurred during the transfer and then, using your fingers, push the dough near the circumference of the pizza into slightly thicker edges or crust.
Brush those raised edges with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt (Maldon is perfect, easy to find and inexpensive).
Now, using a ladle or large spoon, spread the alfredo sauce (or other sauce) on the dough up to about ½” from the edges of the pizza. Some people like a lot of sauce, but we find that gives you a somewhat goopy – though still delicious pizza. We like a medium amount of sauce – you’ll have to experiment yourself.
Distribute whatever vegetables you’ve settle on and the turkey and then the main cheese(s) and then a good shower of grated cheese.
Bake for seven minutes – I doubt that your pizza will be done then, but oven temperatures vary. Now pull the sheet pan out, turn it around and put it back in the oven for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it – even a little overcooked is fine, but you don’t want a large cracker.
Pull from the oven, give another good dusting of grated cheese. Let sit for 4 minutes, then top with basil or parsley, slice and enjoy.
Leftover Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
Note: You can make this with turkey, any liquid – we like a little chicken broth – any vegetables (peas and carrots are a must) – and pliant mashed potatoes. The object is to put a golden crust on the potatoes, which act as a crust for everything else. Shredded Mozzarella or a lot of grated parmesan will help you do this. So, you really don’t need a recipe – but here’s a general idea.
Timing: One Hour
Ingredients: Serves 4 or 5
2 or 3 cups of chopped or shredded turkey (light or dark meat)
4 cups leftover mashed potatoes (or whip up some fresh ones)
Chopped green bell pepper or 2
Chopped carrot (2)
Chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of Better-than-Bouillon chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup frozen peas
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 or 3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon AP flour
Preheat oven to 375 F
Chop and shred turkey, pepper, carrot, celery, mozzarella and mince garlic
Measure out other ingredients.
Use a large skillet that is ovenproof – you’re going to sauté and bake everything in this skillet.
Melt the butter over medium and cook the onion, pepper, carrot and celery until onion is tender and the other vegetables softened – 5 – 10 minutes.
Add the spices (basil, thyme, salt, pepper) and then garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
Now sprinkle the flour over everything and stir, cooking for maybe 90 seconds, until the raw flour is incorporated.
Add the chicken broth and a tablespoon of Better than Bouillon or a bouillon cube and stir. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.
Now add the turkey and the peas, stir.
And now the skill part – spread the mashed potatoes over the whole gamesh. This is why you want fluffy, pliant mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the potato top with the mozzarella.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or more, until the cheese melts and it’s golden.
You can garnish with parsley at this point – serve directly from the skillet.