Thursday, November 22, 2007

roast turkey

wouldn't say that Dagwood is my hero, but I'm a sandwich man. From a basic BLT to a multi-ingredient monstrosity, put a sandwich in front of me at lunchtime and I'm happy. Of course, the better the sandwich, the happier I am. What makes me happiest is the turkey sandwich I make myself. Not merely a way to use up leftovers, this sandwich is my excuse to roast turkeys on any of the 51 non-Thanksgiving weeks in the average year.

There are three essentials for a good sandwich: great bread, fantastic fillings, and a generous selection of condiments. Get the right bread and the right condiments and you can almost forget about the filling, but let's not.

You have to start with roast turkey. Supermarket or deli-sliced turkey won't cut it, and forget about turkey roll altogether. This isn't some schoolboy sandwich; this is big-league. Thanksgiving not at your house this year? You have three choices: steal the leftovers, find a sympathetic friend, or roast your own. Just as long as you end up with three or four thick slices of lean white breast meat.

I like rye bread - with seeds, thank you - but any relatively stout bread could work. Ciabatta roll? Sure. Pumpernickel? Why not? Whole-wheat? If you must, but not the mushy type. Remember, not for schoolboys.

Here's where it gets to be fun. Bring out your condiments. I dress my sandwich up with romaine lettuce, mustard, Russian dressing, horseradish and cranberry chutney. I like tomatoes on sandwiches but they're lousy this time of year so I skip them and use a dollop of ketchup instead. I used to add a couple of drops of Inner Beauty hot sauce, but they've gone out of business and I can't find another sauce that blends hotness with flavor like that one did.

The idea of the condiments is to layer flavors so they reveal themselves as you chew. I start by painting the surface of both pieces of bread with mustard, followed by layers of ketchup and Russian dressing. Next is a thin layer of horseradish, followed by the cranberry chutney. All of this goes on both slices of bread. Stop and admire what you've created. Yeah, it's pretentious, but it builds anticipation and makes the sandwich that much more rewarding.

Arrange your slabs of turkey to cover one slice of bread. What you're looking for here is balance. You want just enough turkey to fill you up, but not so much that it falls out onto your lap. Spread the lettuce and put the top slice of bread on. Condiment side down, of course.

This is where I have my crisis. To cut or not to cut? Whole sandwich or two halves? It's a tough call, one I make at the spur of the moment depending on a complex series of factors including my mood, how hungry I am, and whether I'm eating immediately or taking my sandwich on a journey.

No, this isn't a Dagwood sandwich, but I don't think he'd turn one down. Would you?

Tackling the leftovers

My family has got it wrong; I don't cook to have leftovers. Rather, leftovers inspire me. I have more fun with my personal Iron Chef Challenge already in the fridge. And never more than at Thanksgiving when the fun and the challenge are multiplied. "Iron Chef America Takes On Turkey! Sweet Potatoes! Cranberry Sauce! Pearl Onions!"

The simplest solution, of course, is the sandwich. One friend even layers the mashed sweet potato in his Dagwood, but since I'm on the defensive with my family about leftovers, I like to change the flavor palette some with the recipe below. Note the many possible variations, too.

Curried Turkey Salad Sandwich

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1 medium apple, chopped

2 cups leftover turkey, diced

1/4 cup celery, including some leaves, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, mild or hot to taste

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

2 to 4 tablespoons light sour cream

1 teaspoon - a good squeeze - lemon juice

Mix everything well. Add more of anything. Pile onto a sliced croissant, a wrap, whole-wheat bread, lined with lettuce, and enjoy.

Makes 4-6 hefty sandwiches.


Forget the bread; use greens

Forget the curry; use 1 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon.

Forget the apples; use grapes.

Forget the walnuts; use almonds or pecans.

Use all mayo or all sour cream.

trying every turkey-roasting method under the sun, this is the one I come back to, and the one I always teach at my cooking classes and use in my magazine articles," says cooking teacher and food writer Rick Rodgers in the new edition of his classic cookbook, "Thanksgiving 101."

Rodgers says his method is especially useful with organic or heritage turkeys, which can be leaner than mass-produced birds. Instructions are for an average-sized 18-pound turkey, but they can be expanded or reduced depending on the size of your bird. Figure 1 pound of turkey per person.

Roast Turkey and Gravy

1 (18-pound) fresh turkey

About 12 cups of your favorite stuffing (you can opt not to stuff the turkey and cook it separately)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 and 1/2 quarts chicken stock, or use part turkey stock made by 0simmering turkey giblets, neck and heart with onion, carrots and celery and water to cover for one hour, plus more stock for gravy

Melted unsalted butter, as needed

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup bourbon, port or dry sherry, optional

Position a rack in the lowest part of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Reserve the turkey neck and giblets to use in gravy or stock. (These sometimes are removed by the processor, so don't worry if they aren't present.) Pull out the pad of yellow fat (if present) on both sides of the tail and reserve. If you wish, rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Pat the skin dry. Turn the turkey on its breast. Loosely fill the neck cavity with stuffing. Using a thin wooden or metal skewer, pin the turkey's neck skin to the back. Fold the turkey's wings akimbo behind the back (the tips will rest behind the turkey's "shoulders") or tie them to the body with kitchen string. Loosely fill the large body cavity with stuffing. Loosely cover the exposed stuffing with a piece of aluminum foil. Place any remaining stuffing in a lightly buttered casserole, cover and refrigerate to bake as a side dish. Place the drumsticks in the "hock lock" (some turkeys have a plastic piece inserted for this purpose) or tie together with string.

Rub the turkey all over with the softened butter. Season with the salt and pepper. Tightly cover the breast area with aluminum foil. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Place the reserved fat in the pan - it will melt during roasting and add to the drippings. Pour 2 cups of the stock into the bottom of the pan.

Roast the turkey, basting all over every 45 minutes with the juices from the bottom of the pan (lift up the foil to reach the breast area), until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh (but not touching a bone) reads 180 degrees and the stuffing is at least 160 degrees - about four and one-half hours. Whenever the drippings evaporate, add broth to moisten them, about 1 and one-half cups at a time. Remove the foil during the last hour to allow the skin to brown.

Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter and let it stand for at least 20 minutes before carving. Increase the oven temperature to 350. Drizzle one-half cup stock over the stuffing in the casserole, cover and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a heatproof glass bowl, measuring cup, or fat separator. Let stand for five minutes; then skim off and reserve the clear yellow fat that rises to the top. Measure three-fourths cup fat, adding melted butter, if needed. Add enough turkey stock or chicken broth to the skimmed drippings to make 8 cups total.

Place the roasting pan over two stove burners on low heat and add the turkey fat. Whisk in the flour, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook until lightly browned, about two minutes. Whisk in the stock and the optional alcohol. Cook, whisking often, until the gravy has thickened and no trace of raw flour flavor remains, about five minutes. Season with Royale Orlando: The Tropicale restaurant is serving a Thanksgiving Buffet from 4pm – 9pm and traditional Thanksgiving cuisine with a gourmet flair. Adult price is $35 and children 3-9 are $15. Reservations highly recommended. 8101 World Center Drive, Orlando, 32821, Combine first 4 ingredients in bottom of a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Remove and discard giblets and neck from turkey. Rinse the turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey.

Combine cheese, ¼ cup sage, butter, minced garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; rub mixture under the loosened skin and over breast and drumsticks. Rub turkey skin with cut sides of lemon halves; squeeze juice into turkey cavity. Place lemon halves in turkey cavity; tie legs together with kitchen string.

Place turkey, breast side up, on vegetable mixture in pan. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, and pour 2 cups broth over turkey. Tent turkey breast loosely with foil. Bake an additional 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325° (do not remove turkey from oven). Bake for 1½ hours or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 180°, basting every 30 minutes. Remove turkey from pan. Cover and let stand 30 minutes; discard skin.

Place a large zip-top plastic bag inside a 4-cup glass measure. Pour drippings through a sieve into bag; discard solids. Let drippings stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into a medium bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Add enough of remaining chicken broth to drippings to equal 3 cups.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots; sauté for 1 minute. Add sherry; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to ½ cup (about 5 minutes). Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon sage and cook for 30 seconds. Add reserved drippings; bring to a boil.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and water, stirring well with a whisk. Stir flour mixture into drippings mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve gravy with turkey.

Note: For a handsome garnish, roast lemon halves and peeled shallots at 425° for 20 minutes; arrange with sage sprigs on the turkey platter.

Nutrition information:


16, about 5 ounces turkey meat and 3 tablespoons gravy each.

Per serving

- Chez Vincent: Offering dinner menu plus Thanksgiving special. Thanksgiving dinner is from 4:00-10:00 p.m. and includes roasted cream of cauliflower soup, sauteed turkey breast with cranberry port wine sauce, sauteed turkey breast with marsala sauce and a touch of cream, pumpkin souffle. 533 W. New England Ave, Winter Park, 32789 407-599-2929


Find restaurants serving Thanksgiving meals
- Doc's Restaurant: Offering a traditional New England Thanksgiving with all the trimmings. 1315 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, 32806 407-839-3627

- Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar: Traditional Thanksgiving Day feast catering to both vegans and non-vegans featuring both turkey and "tofurky" along with the vegan versions of stuffing, mashed potatoes, gingered carrots, curried squash and pozole soup, vegan desserts and drinks, for a prix fixe of $19.99 per person, kids 12 and under, $9.99 and kids under 5 are free. This is a prepaid reserved seating event with 3 family-style seatings (kids have their own table), one from 2 pm-3:30pm, the next 4pm-5:30pm and the last is 6 pm. 444 N. Bumby Avenue, 407-893-4994

- Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando: Menu features traditional holiday fare including honey glazed ham, maple roasted turkey, herb and horseradish crusted sirloin, Alaskan halibut, chef's pasta station and a chilled seafood bar with crab legs, poached shrimp and mussels. Complimentary champagne with the Thanksgiving buffet for adults. Universal characters, magician, tattoos and balloon artist for kids. The Kitchen's Thanksgiving buffet is served from noon – 9:00 pm. Prices are $43.95 for adults and $17.95 for children 12 and under. (Ages 3 and under are complimentary) Call 407.503.DINE (3463) for reservations. 5800 Universal Blvd. Orlando, 32819

- Latin Quarter at Universal CityWalk: Thanksgiving menu takes on a Latin flair with Cream of Boniato soup, a Latin Quarter salad, Roasted Turkey with chorizo stuffing and pumpkin, apple or pecan pie. $17.95 for adults and $8.95 for children. Latin Quarter will be open 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. and reservations are on a first come, first serve basis. For priority dining reservations dial: 407-224-3663. 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819.

- Mama Della's Ristorante at Universal Orlando: Thanksgiving turkey dinner with maple roasted turkey and all the trimmings including oyster cornbread, sage stuffing and giblet gravy, oven-roasted mushrooms and garlic and herb mashed potatoes. Strolling musicians Thanksgiving dinner is served from 4:00 – 10:00 pm. Mama's a la carte menu is also available. Call 407.503.DINE (3463) for reservations.

- NBA City Restaurant at Universal CityWalk: Offering a traditional Turkey Dinner, including a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert, available all day. Prices are $19.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids 407-313-2048

- Pastamore Cafe at Universal CityWalk: Thanksgiving menu includes choice of soup or salad, Roasted Vermont Turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and all the fixings as well as pumpkin, pecan or apple pie. $17.95 for adults and $8.95 children. Pastamore will be open 5:00 p.m. - 10 p.m. and reservations are on a first come, first serve basis. For priority dining reservations dial: 407-224-3663. 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819

- Park Plaza Gardens: Serving Chef John Tan's special 4-course feast, Thanksgiving dinner 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Selections include roasted duck, beef tenderloin, crab-stuffed salmon, roasted free-range Tom Turkey. $ 54.95 per adult, children under 12 $ 24.95, children five and under, free. Reservations necessary. 319 Park Avenue South, Winter Park, 32789 407-645-2475

- Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando: Thanksgiving Day Champagne Buffet, with antipasto display, smoked seafood display with salmon, scallops and swordfish, plus a pasta station, slow roasted Virginia turkey, rosemary scented New York strip, herb seared Florida grouper, free range chicken breast and chilled seafood including jumbo gulf shrimp, king crab legs, marinated mussels and oysters. Entertainment for children includes a balloon artist, magician and Universal characters. Thanksgiving buffet includes champagne for adults and will be offered from noon – 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Prices are $46.00 for adults and $23.00 for children 12 and under. (Ages 3 and under are complimentary) Call 407.503.DINE (3463) for reservations.

- Rosen Centre/Cafe Gauguin: Champagne Thanksgiving Day buffet featuring traditional favorites such as Tom Turkey, candied sweet yams and cornbread dressing to honey glazed ham and peppered beef to a pasta bar and stations featuring seafoods such as spiced shrimp and smoked salmon, hand-carved meats and breakfast favorites like omelets and waffles. Buffet is topped off with an array of sweet indulgences from pumpkin and mince meat pies to tarts and French pastries to a chocolate fountain. 11:30 am - 6 pm A
- Rosen Shingle Creek/Cafe Osceola: Extensive Thanksgiving Day Buffet from traditional fare such as roasted turkey and pork tenderloin, truffle butter whipped potatoes, cranberry chutney and roasted pumpkin bisque to California Sushi roll and smoked salmon and bayside shrimp, grilled Caribbean shrimp skewers to a pasta station with spiced pumpkin ravioli and omelets and Belgium waffles. Finale includes an extravaganza of desserts including a chocolate fountain and pastries, muffins and breads


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