Archive for: turkey
Thanksgiving is a holiday where they are typically a lot of leftovers. One of my favorite things to make is a big sandwich with leftover turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, and that will usually be my lunch on the day after the big dinner. But sandwiches can get a little boring after a while (and sometimes there are a *lot* of leftovers!), so sometimes I want a recipe that doesn’t come sandwiched between two slices of bread that still lets me use up some leftovers. This Turkey Cobb Salad is a good option.
My Turkey Cobb Salad starts with a bowl of romaine lettuce dressed with a little bit of vinaigrette. It is topped with turkey (of course), tomatoes, cucumbers, a hard boiled egg, bacon, blue cheese, cheddar cheese and avocado. All of the elements of the salad are arranged around the outside of the bowl, which gives it a really nice look before it is served. Once you’re ready to eat, the salad should be tossed so that you get some of almost every element in every bite. It has tons of flavor and the salty bacon, creamy avodavo, savory cheese and moist turkey all go together incredibly well.
The amounts given below are approximate, as I like to “eyeball” salads based on how much of each ingredient I have on hand and you should, too. I’ll usually fry up 2-3 slices of bacon for the salad, but will make more if I have more mouths to feed. I’ve had some cobb salads where the lettuce is so finely chopped that it is almost shredded. I like mine cut a little bigger than that, but feel free to chop the lettuce however you’d like. The salad will be a nice contrast to heavy Thanksgiving dinner no matter how it is presented. And best of all, you can size this recipe up to serve a big crowd or down to serve just one.
The most difficult part of cooking a turkey is that it is very difficult to tell when the bird is done cooking. A turkey is so large – although the same idea applies to many other kinds and cuts of meat, as well – that it is difficult to maneuver in and out of the oven to re-check the temperature of the leg meat. Fortunately, there is a very handy gadget that I added to my Thanksgiving arsenal that has been making my turkey cooking a whole lot easier: the Polder Original All-In-One Timer/Thermometer.
This is a probe thermometer, which has a 43-inch wire cord between the end of the thermometer and the base of the unit. You can put the thermometer in your turkey (or other roast) and close the oven door, leaving the thermometer in place while your food cooks. You can easily read the current temperature on the base of the unit – no need to peer into a dark oven at a tiny dial. This thermometer also has a programmable alarm temperature range, so you can set the alarm to sound when your food reaches a certain temperature. This is a very handy tool if you don’t want to feel tied to the kitchen all day, because the alarm is very loud and you should be able to hear it from anywhere in the home. I will admit, however, that since I’m usually working on sides or dessert in the kitchen while I’m roasting, I don’t use the alarm much myself.
This probe thermometer is definitely one of the best Thanksgiving cooking gadgets that I’ve added to my arsenal in a while, and it makes the turkey-cooking process a whole lot easier for me because it takes most of the guess work out of timing that turkey. And every bird I’ve made with it has come out juicy and perfectly cooked.
Everyone wants to keep their turkey nice and moist at Thanksgiving. The problem with a whole turkey is that the dark meat takes longer to cook than the white meat, and the white meat can dry out easily after a long time in the oven. There are all kinds of methods out there that promise to deliver a flavorful turkey with moist, tender breast meat. The High Heat Turkey Method is usually my go-to way to cook a turkey, since it produces a really beautiful bird with great skin (especially if you coat the skin with butter before putting it in the oven) that is still nice and moist. But this year, I tried Thomas Keller’s Mayonnaise-Roasted Turkey Breast recipe a few times with great results, so I decided to use technique with a full sized bird and make a Mayonnaise Roast Turkey.
The mayonnaise turkey breast is made by coating a large turkey breast in a thick layer of mayonnaise, which sort of bastes the breast in oil as it roasts in the oven and keeps all that white meat nice and juicy. For a larger bird, the technique is very similar: a layer of mayonnaise is applied to the turkey before it goes into the oven and gives you an easy way to infuse that turkey with some extra moisture. Cook’s Country also featured this method in their magazine recently, and I ended up combining the methods for one that worked out just right.
First, cover the turkey with a dry spice rub so that the mayonnaise has something to adhere to when you smear it onto the bird. Then, season the mayonnaise and rub half of it onto the turkey. The turkey is first cooked at a relative low temperature to start it off, then another coating of mayonnaise is added and the temperature is raised to finish off the cooking and give the turkey a nice, dark finish.
The resulting bird excellent. The white meat was very, very juicy and the seasoned mayonnaise gave the skin a nice flavor, though it didn’t produce as crisp of a skin as the high heat turkey method does. The dark meat was also moist and flavorful, and I had no worries about the turkey drying out as the dark meat cooked. Since the last portion of the cooking is done at a high heat, this method also gives you a pretty clear timeline as to when your bird is close to being done, which helps with the timing of side dishes.
These Turkey Enchiladas with Pumpkin Chipotle Sauce are a great way to put leftover Thanksgiving turkey to good use, but they’re just as good any time of the year. The easy-to-make enchiladas have a turkey filling and are covered with a homemade sauce that uses pumpkin puree and chipotle peppers for a spicy-sweet finish.
When preparing the enchiladas, I start with the sauce. I use canned pumpkin puree, tomato paste, a little garlic and minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I like my enchiladas to be on the spicy side, so I tend to add a little extra pepper to my sauce when I’m making it. Feel free to add a little more (or a little less) as needed when you’re making your sauce. Once the sauce is prepared, fill up slightly warmed corn tortillas with your shredded turkey and cover with the sauce before baking. I typically add a very small handful of cheese to my filling, but I put most of it on top of the dish so that it makes a nice golden topping.
I bake this dish as a casserole, placing my filled corn tortillas in a large baking dish and covering them with sauce. It is an easy way to prepare them, but I find that it also allows me to get an extra few servings out of the dish, which is always a plus if you either have a big crowd to serve or simply like leftovers. I primarily use mozzarella cheese, and I also add some fresh cohita cheese (there are actually many brands of slightly salty fresh Mexican cheeses that you can use in place of the cohita, in case you can’t find it) because it lends a nice saltiness to the mozzarella layer.
If you don’t have leftover turkey on hand, know that this recipe works very well with roasted chicken. It is easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner if you’re starting with a roast chicken from the supermarket, too.
There are more ways to cook turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner then there are turkeys being eaten on the last Thursday in November. Everyone – and their mother – has a strategy and the vast majority of them involve the turkey being in the oven for at least a few hours. I don’t think that there is only one perfect way to cook a turkey and so I am very open to trying new methods when I am ready to roast a big bird. I try to aim for a crisp (or at least not soggy) skin, relatively moist breasts and moist, tender dark meat. My usual method of high heat to start followed by a slow roast at a lower temperature works pretty well, but this year I decided to try an ultra-high heat cooking method to see how the turkey would turn out.
The high heat method, which I’ve mostly heard about as a good option for roasting chicken, not turkeys, calls for cooking a turkey at a high heat the entire cooking time. In theory, this seals in the juices while producing a crispy skin – and gets the turkey done in as little as 90 minutes! I skimmed through some of my past notes on the subject and decided to go with an old New York Times article as a guideline.