Cookin’ with OvenMitz: Delicious Uses for Discounted Turkeys
It’s turkey time! The holidays are over, and if you’re like me, you’re looking for bargains at the grocery store.
Turkey is usually only eaten at Thanksgiving and Christmas, so grocery stores load up their freezers with extra turkeys. What’s left over after Christmas usually goes on super sale, and that’s when it’s time to stock up. I’ve gotten all natural turkeys for as low as six bucks! What a deal! Besides roasting it in the oven, what does one do with all that turkey? Here’s a few ideas on what to do with post-holiday turkey.
1) Freeze it for later
Most stores thaw out their turkeys and then mark them down really low. Instead of throwing the whole basketball of a bird into the freezer, break it down. Cut out the breasts, the wings, the thighs, and the legs. This leaves you with the carcass. What I do here is trim the excess meat off and grind it, either to make chili, burgers, or sausage.
With the bones that I have left, I do one of two things: I either make stock, or I freeze them and give them to my dogs. They make excellent treats, and dogs love them.
2) Grind it up!
If I have a smaller turkey, sometimes I will just grind up the whole thing. Of course, no bones, duh. You can substitute ground turkey for any other ground meat, and it’s much healthier for you. Turkey is very lean, so I like to add the fat (not the skin) from the turkey. Sometimes I’ll even add a little pork fat to it, just so it isn’t so dry. I normally do this when making sausage.
Don’t have a meat grinder? That’s okay! A food processor works just as good. Just don’t over grind it and make turkey paté — unless that’s what you’re going for! Don’t have a sausage stuffer? That’s also okay; just make some patties instead.
3) Smoke that sucker!
I’d always thought that smoking meat would be something very difficult to accomplish. After doing some research and actually attempting it, I found that smoking meat is very simple. It just takes time.
My favorite way to enjoy turkey is to have it smoked. The flavor and the moistness are just wonderful. Don’t have a smoker, you say? Neither do I, but what I do have is a gas barbecue and tin foil.
Heat your barbecue up to about 300°F. Smoking turkey requires indirect heat, so what I do is turn only one burner up about half way, and then turn the others on as low as they can go.
Wrap your soaked wood chips (hickory, maple, cherry, mesquite, pecan) in tin foil, or an old pie tin, and make a wood chip present. Throw it on the burner that’s up halfway, and let it begin to smoke up. Watch the package because it might catch on fire (a little water splashed on it will extinguish it).
Once you’ve reached temperature and have smoke, lay the bird on the grill and let magic happen! I cut the turkey into pieces (breast, legs, wings, thighs), so they take between 30-60 minutes to cook through.
Don’t worry, I’ll give you a recipe (see below under “Recipe Ideas”).
4) No soup for you! Wait, yes soup for you!
It’s winter time, and most people eat soup when it’s cold. A good way to use your turkey bones is to make soup. It gives it that over the top flavor that people just love. Make any kind of soup you want, and throw in some turkey bones! Delicious! Just make sure you cook it through. Nobody wants to eat undercooked poultry.
5) Ice Cream! Just kidding. Just give it to the hounds!
Like I stated earlier, dogs love turkey! For being so cheap, it isn’t a bad idea to get some turkey for Fido. The bones are no trouble for the dog to digest, and they do a pretty good job of cleaning their teeth.
Just make sure you DO NOT give them any cooked bones. They will splinter, causing severe pain and possibly death. What I do is freeze them first before I give them to my dogs. They usually scarf them down within several minutes. Turkey necks are their favorite!
Now, go load up on some turkey!
1) Smoked Turkey
Step one: Brine it
Fill a pot up halfway with water, and bring it to a boil. To this add 1/2 cup of kosher salt, a few bay leaves, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tbs black pepper, 2 sprigs of rosemary, some garlic cloves (however many you’d like), and the tops of an onion. Remove from heat as soon as you can, and let it come to room temperature. Once it’s cooled down, add your pieces of turkey and cover it with the brine. Refrigerate for at least six hours (overnight is best).
Step two: Rub it
Take the turkey out of the brine and pat it dry. Meanwhile, set up your smoking apparatus; in other words, get your grill hot and make your foil packages (make sure you’ve soaked your wood chips in water for an hour).
Cover the turkey with a spice rub:
- 1/4 cup Lowry’s Seasoning Salt
- 1/4 cup granulated garlic
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tbs + 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
Mix it all together. Anything left over, store in a cool, dry place.
Step three: Begin the smoking process
Smoking meat requires two things: smoke and indirect heat. Make sure your wood chips are smoking before laying the bird down to rest. Once I put the turkey on the grill, I like to maintain a temperature between 220° F and 250° F. Keep an eye on the grill to watch for flare ups, and turn your pieces when necessary.
Step four: Let the bird rest
Once the cooking is done, it’s important to let the meat rest so that all of the juices can be reabsorbed into the meat. After a few minutes, dig in!
2) Cheatin’ Barbecue Sauce
- 1 bottle of barbecue sauce
- olive oil
- 1 slice of bacon, chopped very fine
- 1/2 white onion, chopped very fine
- 1 tbs crushed garlic
- 1/2 jalapeño, no ribs or seeds (unless you like it spicy), chopped very fine
- 1 cup of Newcastle Brown Ale
- 1/2 cup of ketchup
Sauté bacon in some olive oil, then add onion and cook until they begin to turn translucent.
Add the garlic and jalapeño, and cook until soft, but not browned.
Deglaze the pan with the Newcastle and reduce by half. Add the ketchup and the bbq sauce.
Use on the smoked turkey or whatever you’d like.
3) Potato Salad
- 3 pounds of potatoes, washed
- 1/3 pound of bacon, chopped very small
- olive oil
- 1 small white onion
- 1 tbs chopped garlic
- 2/3 cup of turkey stock
- 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup of finely cut green onions
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Boil potatoes until they’re tender. Drain and let cool.
In a sauté pan, add some olive oil and the bacon, and begin to brown. To that, add the onions, and cook until translucent. Then add the garlic. Add the turkey stock and red wine vinegar.
Chop potatoes into small pieces and then add them to the pan. Toss until the liquid has been absorbed by the potatoes.
Remove them from the heat and stir in the green onions.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4) Turkey Soup
- 1 cup chopped carrots, onions and celery 1 bulb of garlic, crushed
- 1 small jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed (I roast it first), then chopped
- olive oil, or bacon grease
- 1 cup white wine (I prefer a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Noir)
- 1 large sweet potato, cooked, skins removed, chopped
- turkey stock or water
- turkey bones
- 1 tbs dried thyme
- 2 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped finely
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 cups of potatoes, washed, and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
- salt and pepper to taste (maybe 2-3 tbs salt and 1 tbs pepper)
- 1 pound of ground turkey
Coat the pot with olive oil and begin sautéing the carrots. Once they’re soft, add the onions and celery. When those begin to soften, add the garlic.
Once everything is sautéed all nice and good, deglaze the pan with the white wine.
Add about 3 cups of turkey stock or water, then the sweet potato. Bring to a boil.
Using a hand blender, or a food processor (be careful!!), blend the mixture until it is smooth. Then fill the pot 3/4 of the way with water and add the seasonings and the turkey bones.
Bring to a boil, and then add the chopped potatoes.
Meanwhile, brown up the ground turkey and season it with salt and pepper, then add it to the pot. Cook until potatoes are tender.
Season your soup with salt and pepper.
Serve over brown rice if desired.
Jonnie OvenMitz is a 28-year-old SoCal native who has two dogs and two cats. He obviously enjoys cooking, but he also loves sports and the outdoors; he fishes and hikes a lot, and he backpacks at least once a year. He loves to travel and help people, and he loves God and serves his community. When it comes to music, he likes classical, classic rock, alternative, bluegrass, and country music — but “the real stuff, not that country-pop crap they play on the radio.” He also likes to eat; good Chinese buffets are his favorite, followed by La Reina, Italian food, and burgers.