Ddubluvah's post about turkeys reminds me of my own turkey issues this year.
Here's a wild turkey in our backyard in April. No, I'm not tempted to shoot one of those.
I haven't decided if I'll buy a turkey for this year's holiday meals. After reading about possible turkey shortages, I'm waiting to see what the per-pound prices will be, even though it will surely be cheaper than beef has been for the past couple of years. Maybe the stores will set them low as loss-leaders to get people into the store. Often, they couple that offer with the requirement that the customer has to spend $30 dollars in additional groceries at the same time, not too hard to do.
Last year I bought a couple of organic turkeys fairly early, planning to have one at Thanksgiving and one at Christmas because we like turkey. Put both in the deep freezer. When I eventually prepared them, even with brining as so many website recommend, the first one was really tough. I didn't know if it was the turkey's fault, or the brining somehow went wrong. This type of turkey didn't have much meat relative to the size of the bones, so that was another consideration. But it was probably better for us.
Later in November, Walmart had turkeys for $1.59 a pound (quite a bit less than the organic ones), but only big giant ones. I bought one of those, thawed it out enough to cut it in half and froze the hindquarters to have in the summer. I cut steaks off the thawed-out breast meat to make Julia Child's Turkey Orloff, described as:
"Turkey breast scallopini gratineéd with mushrooms, onions, rice and cheese."
This is how I describe it in my recipe database: "This is the ultimate company dinner recipe. Serve with cranberry relish (recipe below). The Rice Soubise on its own is an excellent side dish, with or without the tarragon."
The full recipe is below.
It's an elaborate recipe, but after making it several times, I don't find it as intimidating.
Rice and Onion Soubise:
2 quarts rapidly boiling salted water
1/4 cup plain raw rice
1 pound (2 - 3) large size onions
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper to season
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 pound white mushroom caps, sliced into 1/4"-thick strips (about 6 cups)
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
2 – 3 tbsp minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
12 or more turkey breast slices, 3/8 inch (can use chicken)
Flour to dredge
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
2 - 3 cups hot turkey stock
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Drop the 1/4 cup rice into rapidly boiling salted water and boil uncovered for exactly 5 minutes; drain immediately and reserve.
Peel and chop the onions in the food processor: pre-chop roughly, then process 1 1/2 cups at a time, using metal blade and switching machine on and off 3 or 4 times to chop into 3/8 inch morsels.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 6 to 8 cup Pyrex casserole dish with a lid or a Dutch oven. Stir in the rice and onions, mixing well to coat with the butter. Cover the dish and bake in middle level of oven for about 1 hour, stirring up once or twice, until rice is completely tender and beginning to turn a golden yellow. When rice is done, and still warm, beat in the egg; taste carefully and correct seasoning.
Sauté the sliced mushrooms in a 12 "skillet over low heat, seasoned with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and sauté for 9 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the food processor. Process in pulses to make even size 1/4 inch pieces of mushroom. Stir in salt and pepper, tarragon, and parsley.
Pound 3/8 inch turkey breast slices between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, with a rubber hammer, a rolling pin, or the side of a bottle, to expand them about double, and thin down by half. Cover and refrigerate until ready to sauté. (I floured them so they wouldn't stick together, then re-floured them before cooking.) Salt and pepper the slices lightly, dredge in flour, and shake off excess, sauté for about a minute on each side in 1 tablespoon of the oil and 2 tablespoons butter (more if needed), just to stiffen them and barely cook through. Set aside on a plate as you finish them.
Note: Before cutting the cutlet slices, I dry-brined the turkey breast for a couple of days by rubbing salt under the skin and on the other surfaces. I don't know how much difference it makes, but the cutlets were tender and weren't rubbery when served.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter over moderate heat in a heavy bottom 2 quart saucepan. Blend in 5 tablespoons flour, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until flour and butter foam and froth together for 2 minutes without turning more than a golden yellow. Remove from heat and pour in 2 cups hot turkey stock and blend vigorously with a wire whip. Return to heat, stirring slowly with wire whip to reach all over bottom, corner and side of pan, and boil slowly for 2 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning. Sauce should be thick enough to coat a wooden spoon nicely. Beat in more stock by droplets if the sauce is too thick.
Purée egg yolks with cottage cheese in food processor or blender. By dribbles, beat the hot gravy/sauce into the egg yolk and cheese mixture.
(This could be used for other meals as a sort of turkey gravy/sauce for vegetables.)
Assembling the Dish:
Choose a 10 by 14 by 2 inch dish. Butter the inside. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Make a neat, slightly overlapping pattern of the turkey slices down the center of the dish, spreading each, as you go, with the soubise. Spoon remaining mushroom duxelles down the sides. Spoon remaining sauce over the turkey and spread the mozzarella cheese on top.
May be prepared a day in advance to this point. When cool, cover and refrigerate. Add more cheese over the top if the sauce has settled.
Place uncovered in upper third of preheated 400 degree oven. Heat about 25 minutes (more if refrigerated?) until hot through and the top is brown. Meat will be juicier if served fairly promptly.
It really needs some cranberry sauce to complete it.
2 cups raw cranberries (frozen slightly thawed can be used)
3/4 cup sugar or more to taste
Use 1/4 of the orange peel and the insides of the orange. Chop in the food processor with the cranberries to uniform small size, add sugar to where it tastes good.