Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Money Saving Tips: Behold, the Humble Frozen Turkey

In our house the three main factors influencing my grocery shopping are (in no particular order):
Convenience (I make almost everything from scratch, but it still has to be convenient as we both work full time)
Quality food

Sometimes these three things are hard to balance, but often it just requires a bit of thinking or working ahead.  One of the ways I do this is by stocking up on frozen turkeys.  With the Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, allow me to share with you why I love frozen turkeys (and why you should too!)...

Typically around Thanksgiving, frozen turkeys will be on sale at Walmart and No Frills for 88 cents a pound.  This is cheap.  Very, very cheap.  As a comparison, boneless skinless chicken breasts go on sale for $5.99 a pound.  If you are in the States, when November comes frozen turkeys tend to go on sale for even less thanks to some marketing board differences between Canada and the US.  Stock up!!!  I usually buy 6-8 of these frozen birds and toss them in our big freezer.  If you do not have a big freezer even buying one or two is great.

What can you get out of a frozen turkey?

Over the weekend, we cooked the last of our frozen turkeys and these guys give you so much bang for your buck.

From one14lb turkey we got:
-a meal for 6 (turkey dinner)
-turkey salad for a meal for 10 people
-turkey for a turkey pot pie
-turkey for turkey and vegetable soup
-turkey leftovers for lunches (about 15 portions)
-plus some additional meat to throw in the freezer emergencies (I use this for adding to pasta dishes in place of chicken, for turkey fajitas, or just to eat with some delicious mashed potatoes)
Just to reiterate: you get so much great meat you get for so little!

How do I roast my turkey?
I use a very simple method because I like simple and it works.
First - defrost the turkey in your fridge.  A good rule of them is to allow 24 hours per 4lbs of turkey.
Once the turkey has defrosted, I remove the neck and gizzards because I just think they are gross and I don't want to deal with them.
I then pat the turkey down with paper towels.
While the turkey is hanging out in the roast pan, I mix up a spice rub.  The amount of spices are variable depending on your taste, but my rub usually looks something like this (for a 14lb turkey):

1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sage
2 tsp thyme
2-3 tsp salt

Once the spice rub is ready, I get my hands into some butter (yum) and I rub butter both under the turkey's skin as well as on top.  How much butter?  Usually about 1/2 cup.  Once I have rubbed on butter I get into the spice rub and again rub it under the turkey's skin as well as on top.  Then I clean my hands (I usually like to have a dry paper towel beside the turkey because it is tricky to wipe the butter residue of your hands).

Next, I quarter two small or one large onion and stuff them in the cavity of the turkey.  If I have celery I might throw a bit in as well.  I also dump some salt into the cavity (about 1/4 of a cup).

That's it.
Put the turkey (covered) in the oven at 425F for 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325F for the remainder of the cooking time.  (Allow approximately 15 minutes per pound).

Once the turkey is done, I tent it and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving.

One of my favourite things to do with the turkey is make a turkey salad - I will share to recipes with you below but you can play around with them quite a bit.

Take the white meat (from the breast) and chop it into small cubes (pieces) - I usually do about 5-6 cups chopped.
For a great, healthy sauce - mix 1 cup of plain yogurt (I use Liberté) with 1/2 cup  mayonnaise.  The amount of sauce you want can vary based on your tastes - and the amount of turkey you are using - but the ration I always use is 2:1 (yogurt vs. mayonnaise).
Then add 1 tsp cumin to the sauce.  Mix the sauce with the chicken.
Finally, chop 1 cup of seedless red grapes and add to the mixture.  You're done!!

ALTERNATES: Another great option is to replace the cumin with dijon mustard and replace the grapes with dried cranberries. 
You could also add chopped celery or chopped walnuts to this recipe.

What to do with your turkey salad?
I love this turkey salad just plain on its own, on fresh rolls, in tortilla wraps, on Paninis with melted cheese (delicious!)......

Remember this post in a few weeks when you see the advertisements for frozen turkeys in the weekly flyers.  Stock up and save!

For more turkey recipes see the Ontario Turkey Producer's website.

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