The Tale of the Turbo Turkey


Like many others, this past Thursday, we prepped our Thanksgiving turkey and loaded him into the oven in plenty of time to allow the recommended 15-20 minutes per pound, plus resting and carving in order to have dinner ready at a respectable 5:30ish that evening.

Like previous years we brined it and then slathered it with an herbed butter and stuffed it’s cavity with onion, apple and lemon wedges, and in it went at precisely 11 a.m.

What was different this year? This year we got to use our 18-quart Roaster Oven. While we used it last Christmas for the duck and last Easter for the stuffed leg of lamb, this was it’s inaugural turkey and we were so excited to be able to have the oven free all day to use for side dishes and the like. From previous experience we thought the roaster ran a little hotter than a full-sized oven (we figured from the smaller space it had to heat and closer proximity of the food to the element) so we only heated it up to 325 to begin with, then decided to bring it down another 25 degrees when it continued to sizzle and pop (probably from the butter rub, but we wanted to be careful). We thought that would be enough to compensate.

(Hamilton Beach 18-Quart Roaster Oven via

There I was, happily going about my comprehensive to-do list (a must, I’ve discovered, for stress-free party and holiday prep) and checking things off right and left as the turkey roasted. I peek in to make sure everything is going according to plan and…

The turkey? Our 16 pound turkey? Was done.

After only 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Sure, it wasn’t golden-brown and picturesque done, but it was most certainly done in the sense that the leg meat was starting to pull away from the bone. And, just to be certain, we checked it’s temperature–definitely done. In fact, we used 2 thermometers (1 dial, 1 digital) just in case one was off.

Nope. Stick a fork in it–that bird was done!

And we were still 3 hours away from dinner.

Now, you might wonder, as we did, what is the best way to proceed when you’ve got a cooked turkey that needs to be held 3 hours. First of all, letting it rest for so long wasn’t a good idea as it would have cooled down too far and spent too much time in the temperature danger zone (40-140 degrees Fahrenheit, where most of the icky bacteria thrives). Completely cooling it off and reheating it before supper was also dicey as we could end up with dry, mealy meat. Not a tasty treat!

Instead we opted to turn the roaster down to 200 and hold it there for most of the afternoon. This way the turkey would be kept plenty hot (and, yes, we checked periodically) but shouldn’t dry out. And it was a success, as far as we can tell (still hot and tasty at dinner and not a bit of it was dry).

Of course, I didn’t think to take a picture until after dinner, but the next day when I used our first bit of leftovers, I did sneak a quick shot of our brunch:

Herbed Turkey Scramble with Spiced Cranberry SauceBetween plenty of leftover turkey and the dozen egg whites I had after using the yolks in the pumpkin pastry cream for pies, I concocted this quick dish of Herbed Turkey Scramble.

Simple whisk together any available egg whites (you could easily use whole eggs, too, if you didn’t have spare whites) along with salt, pepper, sage, parsley and garlic powder and pour them into a hot frying pan. Cook until beginning to set then stir in diced turkey and crumbled cheese of your choice (we used farmer’s cheese). Serve with some Spiced Cranberry Sauce, another leftover.

Simple and delicious.


So, has anyone else encountered a super-fast roasting oven?
And what do you do with all of your leftover turkey?

The Question of Leftovers


I love leftovers. Leftovers, for me, mean

  • I don’t have to cook the next day.
  • I don’t have to do dishes the next day.
  • I don’t have to go out for lunch or pick-up take-out that comes in super-sized portions (and calories) and less-than-stellar taste.

Leftovers are also inevitable when you’re only cooking for 1 or 2. Veggies are easy to find in single-serving sizes but most grocery stores frequently package meat in quantities fit for 4 or more–same for many other goods. Cooking for 4 takes the same amount of effort that cooking for 1 does and results in more prepared meals instead partial bits of boxes and cans.

Some folks, though–and I fail to comprehend the why–have a real issue with leftovers. As in, they can’t stand them, won’t touch them much less eat them and regard this as trash. My friend’s dad was this way. Serve it once and if it wasn’t finished at that meal he didn’t ever want to see it again, even used in a new dish.

This baffles me because I know several dishes–everything from a seafood dip to a good marinara–can be improved by a night in the fridge. This happens because the flavors have time to really hang out and mingle, they spread through the dish and permeate every corner.

Sure, there’s a limit to the lifespan of a pork chop under refrigeration–after 4 days or so I wouldn’t suggest anyone eat it. But a meatloaf sandwich the next day or a pot of soup that gets you through the week, that’s a deliciously beautiful thing! [Caveat: all leftovers should be reheated properly to a temperature above 140 degrees Fahrenheit–165 is a safer best–before being consumed. Safety first!]

True, some things don’t reheat well. Rice and pasta–dry things–tend to need a little help. Sprinkling either with water before popping into the microwave or toaster oven help hydrate the drier parts during reheating. Breads should never be put into the microwave for more then, say, 20 seconds or you’re going to end up with a brick about 10 seconds after it cools.

But why the lack of love towards the leftover? Seriously, if you don’t like leftovers please leave me a comment and try to help me understand. It might not be solvable, but I really would like to understand.


This year’s fundraiser for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk has begun. Check out my Cocktails for a Cure page if you’d like to find out how to help.

Turkey Gumbo


Everyone has their own favorite ways of using up the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. In our family, it’s steaming turkey gumbo ladled over a pile of fluffy white rice. (Yes, I know, brown rice is healthier but this is a once a year thing, folks; fluffy and brown rice don’t meat too often as far as I know!)

There are as many different ways to make gumbo as their are people who make it. Here’s my way.

Turkey & Sausage Gumbo

First you make a roux from

2/3 c olive oil
2/3 c flour

Cooking to just past blond stage–enough to cook the flour completely and develop a little thickening power but without adding too much color to the gumbo.

Add in

2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced

and cook for 5-10 minutes before adding

1 lb (or more) smoked sausage, sliced
1 turkey carcass with some meat left on the bones
2 smoked turkey wings (optional)
2 Tbsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 c white wine

and then enough water to cover the works. For very large turkey carcasses you may need to break it in half so as not to water-down the gumbo just to cover all the pieces.

Simmer for 45 minutes or so, then add

2 cups of cooked turkey, or whatever you have left

and continue to cook for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in

3 Tbsp file powder

and let sit for 5 minutes before serving over white rice.

Mom’s the one who likes to use the smoked turkey wings, especially if we’re shy on actual leftover turkey besides the carcass. (I know, carcass isn’t a very appetizing word but it makes a very appetizing soup!)

Random Appetites: For the Love of Peeps!


Ah, yes, those sugared puffs of piped marshmallow fluff. I’ve found you either love ’em or hate ’em, and I happen to love ’em. Unfortunately it’s more of a love-hate thing, since they make me verrry sleepy if I eat more than a couple at a time. Sugar overload makes me sleepy, go figure. But even if you don’t like to EAT the bunnies, chickies and other figures that feature prominently in many holiday candy aisles (but mostly Easter) there is much more to their fluffy little heads.

Have you ever heard of peep jousting? It’s simple: place two peeps–each fitted with a toothpick lance under one, uh, wing–facing each other on a paper or other microwave-safe plate. Pop them into the microwave for just a bit (30 seconds should be enough) and watch who stabs who first.

Here’s a lovely, commentary-rich video of the event but don’t let that stop you from trying it yourself!

Of course, if you’re into less blood sugar-thirsty peepitude, I came across a couple of sweet books on the confection, but not like you’d expect. Check out Peeps: A Candy-Coated Tale or Peeps Ahoy!: A Candy-Coated Adventure on the High Seas. Or, if you’ve hit the local Dollar Store and found lots of peeps for only a few pips, check out Peeps: Recipes and Crafts to Make with Your Favorite Marshmallow Treat to use up your sugary score.