Cooking On A Budget: Roasted Turkey Dinner and Beyond

Friday, November 25, 2011

Roasted Turkey Dinner and Beyond


In this day and age and given the current state of the economy, everyone is concerned about conserving, budgeting and keeping a good eye on finances. That includes the food category. A number of people would like to know how to utilize left overs which includes turkey. So this section is dedicated to roasted turkey and using the left overs.  The first part is sandwich ideas and from there I branch into left over dinner recipes.
I am not one that cooks turkey on Thanksgiving only. My family loves turkey so we have it when it goes on sale during the year. For the most part I cook the "hotel style" turkey breast as my family does not care for dark meat. Choose a whole turkey or the hotel style breast according to your budget and the price. Turkey is a versatile left-over and can be utilized for makeover meals in a variety of ways.
To aide in the browning of the skin, make a small dish of softened (room temperature) butter. Pull the skin up and away from the turkey using your fingers and also using a fillet knife to get deeper under the skin.  Add the butter under the skin and rub the remainder of the butter all over the exterior of the bird. For additional flavor add any finely chopped fresh herb or dried spice to the softened butter and mix well.  Season the whole turkey or turkey breast exterior with salt and pepper. If I make a whole turkey I stuff the bird with chunks of onion celery and carrot, or if I make the Hotel Style Turkey Breast, I add the chunks of vegetable to the roasting pan. This helps keep the bird moist and adds tons of flavor to the gravy.

Cover the turkey with either foil or the top of your roasting pan. During the last hour of cooking add canned Turkey or Chicken Broth and begin basting about every 10 to 15 minutes until the skin is deep golden brown.

Instant Read Thermometer

Every turkey comes with an approximate cooking time. Use an instant read thermometer to check that it is cooked properly. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees for poultry.
When the instant read thermometer (left hand photo) reaches 160 degrees, you can remove the turkey to a cutting board or platter and cover the turkey with foil to let it rest.  The temperature will come up to 165 degrees during the resting period. Rest for at least an hour.

While your turkey is resting, make a gravy with the pan drippings.
  1. When your turkey is fully cooked remove from the pan to rest. Make a slurry with cornstarch and water or turkey or chicken broth (approximately 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup liquid). Set aside.
  2. Remove the chunks of celery carrot and onion with a slotted spoon.
  3. Set your roasting pan on top of the stove. To make sure you have left-over gravy, be sure and add plenty of water or additional broth to the pan. If your liquid has lots of fat, use a fat separator and transfer the liquid to a sauce pot. Over medium to medium high heat, bring the liquid up to a boil.Using a whisk, and with a circular motion stir the liquid and pick up all of the pan drippings from the bottom and sides of the pan.
  4. Bring the mixture up to a boil. At this point I like to add in some Gravy Master® .
  5. Pour in the slurry mixture a little at a time and keep whisking until you have the consistency of the gravy you like. The more slurry, the thicker the gravy. Turn the heat back to low and cook for 1 - 2 minutes more while still whisking.  Remember this: you will never know how thick your gravy will be until it comes up to a boil.
  6. If you prefer a blond looking gravy add in some half and half or cream, or, skip using the Gravy Master® . I think the Gravy Master® imparts nice flavoring, however it's up to you.
Turkey left overs are great. Homemade turkey soup is the first that comes to mind. Use your left over gravy and vegetables in the soup. If you have left over stuffing make tiny stuffing balls. If the stuffing seems a little dry, add some chicken broth or an egg. Mix well and form into balls. Fry them up in a saute pan to a golden brown. When the soup is fully cooked add the stuffing balls to the bowl and ladle in the soup.

Sandwich Ideas:
  1. You can make sliced turkey and bacon club sandwiches with lettuce and tomato on any kind of toasted bread.
  2. Dice the turkey to make turkey salad with some finely diced onion and celery and mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve on lettuce or in a sandwich or in a pita pocket. For a little different spin and added crunch add in seedless grapes cut in half or finely diced apple.
  3. Sliced turkey in a tortilla wrap with bacon and cranberry sauce.
  4. Turkey, cooked bacon, Monterrey Jack Cheese and Mango tortilla wraps. Place all the ingredients on the wrap and roll up envelope style.  Put the whole shootin' match in the microwave just long enough for the cheese to melt.
  5. Turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwiches.
  6. Open faced turkey sandwiches on toasted bread with left over gravy.
  7. Turkey - chimichanga style:  In a bowl combine 3 cups shredded turkey, 2 cups salsa of your choice, 3 scallions finely chopped, 1 tsp.cumin and a blend of Mexican cheeses - about 1 1/2 - 2 cups total. Place about 1/3 cup mixture in a tortilla wrap.  Fold up envelope style. Secure the wrap with toothpicks.  In a deep skillet heat up some canola or vegetable oil - enough to go up about one third of the skillet. Fry each one, turning until they are golden brown. Remove from oil to a paper towel to drain off some of the fat. Serve along side some shredded lettuce, diced tomato and sour cream.
Dinner Recipes:
Turkey Tetrazzinni
There are some ingredients in here that are not budget conscious in a sense, however if you buy the smallest bottle of Sherry you can keep it in your pantry and use it in many other dishes. Make sure though you purchase this at a liquor store as the on the shelf grocery brand is horrendous and I don't recommend using it at all! As for the heavy cream - if you purchase it for this recipe think about what else it will be used for. For instance, whip it into fresh whipped cream to top fruit desserts or a pie, add it in a soup to make it a creamed soup, etcetera. The heavy cream substitute could be half and half that you may already use in your coffee. 

This is also a great left over recipe that uses the left over turkey (left over chicken can be used in place of the turkey) and left over spaghetti pasta.  So, if you plot out your weekly meals add a spaghetti and meatball meal into the plan, and then make this meal after that.
The recipe calls for crimini mushrooms (I like their deep meaty flavor), however use white button mushrooms - again, whatever fits your budget.

Start off by making a velouté sauce.
Velouté Sauce with Sherry
  • 1 cup hot chicken sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 cup sherry
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper (if you don't have white pepper, use finely ground black pepper)
In a sauce pot melt the butter over medium low heat.  Add in the flour and stir. Keep stirring for about 3 to 4 minutes until the flour has had a chance to cook down and you no longer have that raw flour taste. Next, whisk in the sherry and cook until the alcohol evaporates - about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the hot chicken stock and keep whisking over medium heat until blended and there are no lumps. Remove from the heat, add in the heavy cream, nutmeg and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes over medium low heat, stirring until you achieve a creamy consistency.

  • Velouté Sauce with Sherry (see above recipe)
  • 1 box of spaghetti or spaghetti rigati - cooked to manufacturers directions.
  • 1 lb. crimini mushrooms - sliced
  • 2 cups left over turkey - shredded
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese - grated, plus some for the topping.
  • 1 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp olive oil for sautéing
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pot cook the spaghetti, drain and set aside. I always use Barilla® pasta, however use whatever brand you like or any brand on sale that fits within your food budget.  Make the Velouté Sauce with Sherry. Next, in a sauté pan melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the sliced mushrooms.  Salt and pepper the mushrooms and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms give off some of their liquid.  Covering the saute pan will help aid this process.

In a bowl combine the spaghetti, the cooked mushrooms (and any liquid given off by the mushrooms), and the Velouté Sauce with the 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese.  If the mixture is too tight (dry), add a touch of the cream to it.  Transfer all to an oven proof baking dish and sprinkle more Parmesan cheese on top.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven, covered for approximately 30 to 40 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

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