Ingredient SpotLight

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that means enjoying turkey with friends and loved ones for the big meal. Many will roast their birds, but turkeys can also be baked, grilled or fried. However you enjoy it, you can rest assured that you are in good company. Around 675 million pounds of turkey are consumed each year during Thanksgiving in the U.S.

It is a common myth that there is a sedative drug in turkey called tryptophan that makes one feel drowsy after eating turkey. The truth is that lethargy after a big dinner is usually brought on by a mixture of overeating and wine consumption. One would have to eat copious amounts of turkey to get enough tryptophan to induce drowsiness!

In the spirit of the season, I'm sharing a few turkey recipes that are well-suited to entertaining. They range from the small event -- featuring a turkey tenderloin -- to a large event -- featuring a fully-dressed bird. There are also a wide variety of methods of preparation. Everything from baking to roasting to grilling are covered. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Baked Turkey Tenderloin with Winter Squash

  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil -- divided
  • 1/2 T. butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium stalk celery -- sliced
  • 3/4 pound turkey tenderloin -- cubed into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 cloves minced garlic or 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • Sea salt -- to taste
  • Ground pepper -- to taste
  • 2 c. winter squash such as Kabocha (leave the skin on) or Butternut (remove skin) -- cubed into bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, and one tablespoon of the olive oil. Set aside.

In an oven-proof skillet, heat the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add the turkey, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, cooking until the turkey browns. Add the squash and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Sprinkle the turkey with the bread crumb mixture. Cover the dish and transfer to the hot oven. Bake the casserole for 15 to 20 minutes or until the turkey is completely cooked and the squash is tender.

  • Yields: 2-3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Bagged Roast Turkey With Cornbread, Chestnut, and Sage Stuffing

  • Large turkey (15 to 22 pounds)
  • 2 large, plain brown grocery bags
  • 1 clove garlic -- minced
  • 1/2 c. butter or margarine -- melted

Remove the giblets from the turkey. Soak the turkey in enough salted water to cover it for 1 hour; meanwhile, prepare the giblet stock and stuffing (see below). Drain and rinse the turkey; pat dry. Rub the cavities with minced garlic. Brush the inside of the bird with melted butter. The bird is now ready for stuffing.

Giblet Stock

  • Giblets and neck from turkey
  • 2 ribs celery -- chopped
  • 1 clove garlic -- minced
  • 1 onion -- quartered
  • 1 parsnip -- quartered
  • 1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, marjoram, and sage

Combine all of the ingredients and cook in 1 quart of water, covered, while the turkey is soaking and the stuffing is being mixed. (Stock will be used in the stuffing and gravy.)

Stuffing

  • 4 to 6 slices cornbread (depending on size of turkey)
  • 2 c. cubed wheat bread
  • 2 onions -- diced
  • 2 apples -- peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 c. chopped celery
  • 1 c. chopped chestnut meats
  • 1/2 c. grated carrot
  • 2 T. ground fresh sage
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. butter -- melted
  • 1 c. giblet stock -- strained
  • Giblet meat -- chopped fine

Crumble the cornbread and toss with the bread cubes and remaining ingredients. When the stuffing is well mixed, stuff lightly into the cavities of the turkey, and sew them shut with a needle and cotton thread. Tuck the wings in and tie the legs together. Place the turkey in one brown bag, and slide the second bag over the open end. Place the bagged bird in a roasting pan and roast at 350° F, allowing 20 minutes per pound. Check after three quarters of the time has elapsed, and add water if necessary. Cut away the bags and let the turkey brown during the last 20 to 30 minutes. Use the turkey drippings and the remaining stock to make a gravy.

  • Yields: 10-14 servings
  • Preparation Time: 8 hours

Mesquite Grilled Cajun Turkey

  • 3 lbs. boneless breast of turkey -- thawed
  • Oil
  • 1 T. onion flakes
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. anise seed
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf -- crushed

Prepare the grill using mesquite chips or coals.

Brush the turkey with oil. Combine the remaining ingredients and sprinkle over the turkey.

Place the turkey on the grill. Cover the grill and cook according to the package directions.

Wrap the turkey in foil and let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil from the turkey and slice it.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 2 hours

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