I feel I need to be honest with you all ….. I don’t like turkey. There I said it. I will wait for the severity of this to set in…..
Graphic: AC Wraith
I fully expect stones to be cast through my windows, eggs to be tossed my car and a scarlet letter “T” for “turkey hater” to be scrawled on my door any minute. But in my own defense, I don’t come from a long line of great cooks. Actually, the majority of folks in my family can’t cook and haute cuisine is considered what can be ordered from the Chinese take-out joint down the street. Yes, I come from a stereotypical middle America town. A loving community that liked its food bland and boring. A town where ketchup was spicy. A little enclave that thought Thanksgiving was dry turkey drowned in salty store bought gravy accompanied by canned green beans and Sara Lee Ready-Bake Rolls. I can honestly say that growing up I knew the subtle variations between “winter ambrosia” and “summer ambrosia” desserts. While I was no child genius, it would take a dunce not to know this food sucked in a major way. So like any self-respecting 8 year old with a refined palette, I piled my plate with salad, mashed potatoes from a box and Stove Top stuffing when Thanksgiving rolled around. Did I mention, I suffered from malnutrition and was skinny as a rail growing up? I wonder why…….
Flash forward 2.5 decades and I still am not a huge fan of turkey or the trimmings that go with Thanksgiving. I would rather have a steak or a nice roast chicken than the piece of briny sandpaper folks try to pass off as turkey. I would rather eat wallpaper paste then a spoonful of boxed mashed potatoes. Ironically, I like McDonalds (my guilty pleasure) but bad Thanksgiving food makes me sad. I was all set to simply ignore the holiday and order pizza, but The Partner asked multiple times if were inviting people over for dinner. I took it as his subtle hint that an extra-large sausage and green pepper pizza was not his idea of Thanksgiving. Taking this to heart, I have created what I think is a fairly easy but tasty menu that can easily be scaled for a small gathering or a full-blown family dinner.
Thanksgiving Menu 2010
Turkey Breast Roulade stuffed with Wild Mushroom Dressing
Ginger Glazed Carrots
Sauteed Green Beans
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
I have made the Turkey Roulade once before and found that it was one of the few times I enjoyed eating turkey. Because its rolled, I find the white meat stays moist and the stuffing imparts a large amount of flavor. It also helps to salt the HECK out of it. This roulade recipe is quite versatile and can be used with a variety of different stuffings depending on your preference. The Partner is absolutely CRAZY for mushrooms, while I couldn’t care less about the edible fungus. But being that I am a sucker for a cute face, I caved in and am making mushroom version based on Emeril Lagasse’s recipe.
Wild Mushroom Stuffing – Yields About 2 to 2.5 cups
1 cup fresh white bread, crust removed and cubed
1/2 cup whole milk
2 bacon slices, chopped
1/2 onion – approx 3/4 cup finely diced
1 rib celery – approx 1/4 cup finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups assorted wild mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, etc)
1/4 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 tablespoon chopped thyme
1/2 tablespoon chopped oregano
Salt & Pepper
In a small bowl, soak bread cubes in milk
In saute pan, saute bacon over medium high heat until crisp and fat has been rendered. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook until softened. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms have released their liquid and are soft, approximately 4-6 minutes. If using re-constituted mushrooms, add some of the mushroom water to the pan. Deglaze pan with Marsala wine and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Squeeze excess milk from bread and place bread in large mixing bowl. Add eggs and mix well, breaking up pieces of bread. Add mushroom mixture, chopped herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
At this point, the dressing can be baked on its own or used to stuff a bird or roulade.
Mushrooms: I found that using dried shiitake mushrooms is just as tasty and economical alternative to fresh wild mushrooms. They can normally be found in the Asian food section of your local super market. However, I beg you, don’t use the white cap mushrooms – they impart ZERO flavor to this dish. In fact the white cap mushrooms are the same price as the dried shiitake, so you have no reason not to get the shiitake mushrooms!
Quantity: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you want to make it as a side dish. If you do increase the quantity, watch the amount of Marsala wine used. If you double or triple it, I would suggest keeping it to half a cup and then tasting to see if you need more. I find that more than a half cup gives the dressing a boozy flavor.
Milk: Don’t feel that you need to use whole milk. I just think it tastes better, but remember, I am from the Midwest and have an unhealthy love affair with fat.