A Vegetarian Cooking A Turkey


Pangloss
#1
Hey folks:

I'm a veg-head and the only one in my social group, including my girlfriend. I love to cook. I was taking care of a sick friend over Christmas and missed the whole season, and now I want to do a big turkey dinner (I mean BIG - and for at least 12 people).

A friend is going to get the biggest turkey he can from another (farmer) friend - organic, free range, bedtime stories read to it, etc, etc.

How would you cook it? What would you stuff it with, if you stuff it at all? The veg that goes best with it, and most importantly, what dessert?

All that stuff - and keep in mind I'm a pretty good cook, with a well stocked and equipped kitchen, and I'll take a couple days off work if I need to.

I await your wisdom.

Pangloss
 
Unforgiven
#2
Hey good for you man! For years my wife was a vegitarian and developed one of the best damn spare rib recipes known. Must be something to that.

There are plenty of options from roasting to deep frying. All depending on how you want to approach it. I like roasted best as it feels just so much more traditional. Use unsalted butter under the skin of the bird to help keep the breast from getting dry. Make your own bread crumbs by drying a loaf or two with a big bird like that, of some nice crusty bread even a light rye or something if you like. Remember sage and rosemary are your work horses here. You can add raisins to the stuffing too or dried cranberries to add a little tie in with desert. You might try changing the type of mushrooms in the stuffing too.

Lemon, garlic, lots of fresh thyme, a onion all can go into the cavity along with lots of salt and pepper. Baste with pan juices and once removed from the pan after cooking, let it rest on the cutting board covered in tinfoil for twenty minutes. Yes you can make it a hat and tell people it's so that the aliens can't get those damned gamma rays in there.

There are tons of recipes and variation on the net that might give you the idea you're looking for.

Good luck with it and I hope you enjoy the experience.
 
Zan
#3
Pangloss, it helps if you think of that turkey as just a very large chicken. loll. Have you ever cooked with poultry before? It's not that hard, really. I tend to cook by feel, so I rarely time or measure...

one site says: (external - login to view)

Quote:

While cooking time may vary depending on the strength of your oven, the general rule is 20 minutes per pound for a defrosted turkey and 10-15 minutes per pound for fresh. The easiest way to keep track of your birdís inner heat is to stick a meat thermometer into the spot where thigh meets carcass before you bake at 325-350įF. When the temperature reaches 180įF, youíll know that the meat is nice and sweet and ready to eat.

Here's another link (external - login to view) that has some good info and links to recipes too. I see Unf gave you some good tips too. He's right about the sage and rosemary. You could add a bit of thyme too maybe.

re stuffing - die hard old school cooks will tell you to stuff the bird, but I think the general consensus nowadays is to make the stuffing separately - cooking it in the bird can lead to bacteria problems - plus I find it makes the stuffing a bit too moist.

There's scads of recipes for stuffing out there, it depends on whether you want a nice basic 'grandma's stuffing' recipe, or something a bit more 'gourmet' with dried fruits or other variations.

Potatoes - roasted with herbs or mashed - either are delicious with a good turkey gravey.
Veggies - anything goes, I think. My family like green beans almondine with turkey dinner, steamed brussel sprouts are also good, and mashed turnip with a bit of nutmeg, butter and brown sugar.

btw, it shouldn't be necessary to take a couple days off work. lol. If you can have the stuffing made and ready to cook the day before, and the potatoes and other veggies peeled, chopped, and covered in water the evening before, all you have to worry about the day of the meal is actually cooking.

Dessert - it's wide open. If you are going for traditional Christmas dinner, a pumpkin pie would fit the bill, but we find nobody's really up for a heavy dessert after a big turkey dinner - maybe something light like a mousse would be better?

Anyway, enjoy your turkey adventure, hope you'll let us know how it all turned out.
 
karrie
#4
Pang. I personally don't stuff a turkey with anything I intend to eat that night (yes, I'm paranoid). But I don't waste it either. I stuff it with any aromatic vegetable and/or spice I can find. An onion, a few stalks of celery, some sprigs of rosemary, some carrots if you have room.... whatever your little heart desires for a future stock (yes, stock... you're wasting an awful lot if you don't make stock with it when you're done! When you're done, simply throw it all in a large pot, boil until the bones soften, then strain, cool, skim off the fat, and store in the freezer or fridge... yum)

Doing it that way, at least then you can keep the stuffing vegetarian for yourself.

As I read through, I can see that many of these are largely ideas others have offered up as well. One thing I can tell you though is that, if you want to mess as little as possible with your bird, make it a self basting bird. I know it might be pushing it for a vegetarian, but, covering the turkey in a layer of bacon is a wonderful way to get a juicy bird without having to open and close the oven constantly to baste, which can actually dry your bird out by slowing the cooking repeatedly. And it doesn't make it taste 'baconny' (that's karrie's word of the day BTW).

If you have an adventurous crowd, you might want to try a dish like 'marbled mash' (mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes, drop by interchanging spoonfuls into your baking dish and swirl with a knife just enough to make them 'marbled' and keep warm until you're ready to eat... my kids love it... just try a couple spoonfuls yourself and see if you do too so you're not committed if you don't... lol).

Also... if you want to look like the TOTAL king of turkey meals. Make your stock, use it to make butternut squash soup, and serve it the next day to throw leftovers into. Just about any leftovers (fruit, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies), go wonderfully in a butternut squash soup, and make you look like a culinary genius.
 
jenn
#5
ohhhh karrie.. I like the marbled effect.. never thought of that.. think I will use potatoes and yams..I make yams for all my big turkey meals...
now..I am old school.. not saying I am old.. but I ~do~ stuff my bird.... and I don't buy a selfbasting either...I add milk and melted butter and lightly fried bacon to my stuffing...the only other spice I use is salt and pepper.. the butter evaporates into the bird basting it from the inside out I also drizzlemelted buter over the bird...I do baste a couple times.. I think it is more so just to steal a spoon full of the stuffing sticking out... lol.. I don't baste tillI can defiantly "smell" turkey in the air... I have never had a dried out bird...
and stock..oh my... my home made soup.... lasts for less than a week around here... even my non soup eating teens love it...

as fo desert .. keep it light... after a full turkey dinner.. you want to fnish it off with a nice light desert... or everyone is going to be too full for it...
 
#juan
#6
This is my favourite recipe for roast turkey and it makes no allowances for vegetarians. Sorry.

We start with a large turkey...We'll call it 22 lbs.

First we'll make the stuffing. You'll need a very large bowl. Start with a loaf of two day old sliced 60% whole wheat bread cut into half inch cubes. Add one finely chopped medium onion, one lb pork sausage meat, one lb. browned and drained ground beef, one cup of sliced mushrooms, One teaspoon each of sage, thyme, black pepper. Mix the dressing with a fork (not the hands)until everything is well distributed throughout the dressing. Add two eggs, and one half can undiluted Cambell's chicken broth over the dressing. Stir well. Set aside.

Remove the neck and giblets and wash the turkey inside and out with cold water. Dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper the inside of the body and neck cavity. Pack the dressing into the body and neck cavities and secure with skewers. Pin wing tips to body with skewers. Place stuffed turkey in large greased roasting pan and cover. Bake in 350 degree oven for fifteen minutes per lb, including the five lbs of stuffing. I have a lifting chain with handles to remove cooked turkey from the pan to the platter. You need something like this because this turkey will be well done.

There will be a lot of juice in the pan, as well as a lot of fat. Skim off as much of the fat as possible with a baster. If you like a darker gravy add a can of Cambell's beef broth as well as the rest of the can of chicken broth that you used in the stuffing. I usually chop up the giblets and the neck and simmer them in water for a couple hours while the turkey is cooking. This water would be added to the gravy. When you are satisfied with the taste of the gravy, whisk in flour and water to thicken.

Remove the dressing to a separate bowl and serve. I will Assume that during the six hours or so that the turkey has cooked, you have cooked all the veggies and whatever you want with the bird.

Enjoy....
 
Pangloss
#7
Hey folks:

This rocks! Yes I've done bird before - from quail to goose, but never a turkey. I'm leaning towards the "bacon across the back" thing, mostly because I know the tastes of my friends. Butternut squash soup - yes, indeedy! I just made a whole bunch of Mulligatawney soup and stupid me, I put it all in the freezer. . .sheesh.

Stuffing - well I'm on the fence here. In or out of bird? I like stovetop because I can adjust it while cooking (I like to play with my food. . .at least while making it), but when I cook something I haven't before, I try to be as traditional as possible. Toss a coin time.

Marbled mashed spuds. Nice touch. Do you know the Julia Child formula for mashed potatoes? Equal amounts of butter and boiled spud, mash vigorously. I tried it once, and had the worst heartburn.

Veg? Yeah, I'm a big brussel sprouts fan. Didn't used to be - when I was little I thought they were too gross and bitter, until my Aunt Thelma noticed me not eating them and acted surprised: "I thought all little boys liked fartballs," she said. "Fartballs?", I asked Aunt Thelma.

"Yes, each one of these little green balls is a great big fart, just waiting for you to make it happen," she replied.

Ever since, I've loved fartballs.

Pangloss
 
Hazmart
#8
Pangloss I love it that you are a veggie, I am too! Although I dislike cooking, for Christmas my mom makes the whole turkey thing and I also make sure that we get what I have deemed a 'Happy Turkey', organic free range happy happy happy! I also love stuffing, my mom puts some in tinfoil for me and stuffs the rest. I also love sweet potatos! but never thought of mixing them with regualar,great idea. And my favourite veg is roast carrots, I can't get enough of them oh and home made cream corn! Well now I am starving and I don't think my shredded wheat is going to cut it!
PS pangloss don't mention being a veggie around colpy, you never know when he may be hungry!
 
Pangloss
#9
A friend told me that the word "vegetarian" was actually a Coast Salish word that means "Bad Hunter."
 
#juan
#10
I never considered whether or not to stuff the bird. In my experience turkeys are always stuffed. Years and years(at least seventy)of tradition in my family calls for the bird to be stuffed. I have read of people having problems leaving poorly cooked stuffing in the turkey but if the bird is cooked right, there won't be a problem.
 
Zan
#11
Juan, you have a good point. Apparently none of us should be alive today, considering all the new information on pretty much everything that was done when we were growing up - they had it all wrong, our parents and grandparents doncha know.. .

Nonetheless, I will still comment that they say that if you've cooked the stuffing in the bird, you should remove it all and refrigerate any leftovers separately - this will apparently eliminate the bacterial concerns.
 
Unforgiven
#12
I'm with #juan, gotta stuff that bird. Nothing wrong with making extra stuffing on the stove and allow for two different ways of preparing it. You always need more stuffing later for hot turkey sandwiches too.
 
Pangloss
#13
Stuffing the bird means that I have another burner and pot available for everything else. . .

I like that idea.

If I ever win the lottery I'm building me a big, commercial-grade kitchen.

Even before the sports car.

Even before the coke and hookers. . .

Well, maybe the kitchen could wait one weekend.

Pangloss
 
karrie
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by UnforgivenView Post

You always need more stuffing later for hot turkey sandwiches too.

And garnish for the butternut squash soup.
 
#juan
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by ZanView Post

Juan, you have a good point. Apparently none of us should be alive today, considering all the new information on pretty much everything that was done when we were growing up - they had it all wrong, our parents and grandparents doncha know.. .

Nonetheless, I will still comment that they say that if you've cooked the stuffing in the bird, you should remove it all and refrigerate any leftovers separately - this will apparently eliminate the bacterial concerns.

For years we cooked a turkey in a shallow Corningware pan and we allowed about twenty five minutes per pound at 325 degrees F. and we used to wrap the legs in foil so the wouldn't dry out completely. I used to get up on Christmas morning at 5:00 am to get that bird stuffed and in the oven.
About ten years ago just before Thanksgiving I discovered the big blue, speckled, covered, roasting pans. The kids were away at camp but we were cooking a good sized turkey anyway. I put the turkey in the oven and Jan and I went for a drive to Harrison Hot Springs while the turkey was cooking. We got home at least two hours before the turkey was supposed to be done. I lifted the lid to check and the turkey was in pieces, floating in the broth and fat. (PS...the stuffing was well done, what was left of it..) We have since revised our cooking time estimates....... Fifteen minutes per pound or slightly less is more than adequate.
 
#juan
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

And garnish for the butternut squash soup.

The stuffing I specified in the turkey recipe can be sliced for cold sandwiches by itself.....or garnish for soup.
 
jenn
#17
a few years ago.... we were in that Christmas Turkey Scare.. we returned our turkey and had roast beef that year.. wel the next year Turkeys were on for 99 a pound.. I bought a 40.00 one.... hubby almost skinned me alive.. I didn't think it was all THAT big.. but we had probs finding a roaster to roast it in... let alone trying to figure out how many hours to cook it. AND how many loaves of bread for the stuffin....lol...
 
#juan
#18
A forty pound turkey? That is a big bird. I tend to limit our turkey to something around twenty five pounds because the really big ones can be a bit stringy. (And they won't fit in our roaster.)
 
jenn
#19
yep... was a 40 pound bird..
 
gerryh
#20
find a roaster? The thing damn near didn't fit in the fricken oven....even with the rack on the bottom it damn near touched the top burner......cooked all frickin night long and most of the next day...... and do you have any idea how much a 40lb. bird, fully stuffed and all juices weighs when you TRY to take it out of the oven? I damn near needed a crane. I had to see a chiropractor for a month afterwards.

But DAMN was it ever good....tender, juicy, and not stringy at all..... then again, her birds are always good.
 
gerryh
#21
OK...so I blew it..I just couldn't let the bird story go by.
 
jenn
#22
lmao gerryh.... nice senerio...but it really wasn't as bad as you think it might have been...
 

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