This is something that I really love, and when I don’t have left over turkey, I have been known to go to the store and get the frozen one – you know which one I mean. But, this dish is really best fresh, made from the left over turkey at your feast.
I have found other recipes that called for peas, no sherry, white wine, etc. Well, it’s just not the same thing! This is the Turkey Tetrazzini you have been looking for, that you remember, that you crave, the one with celery, mushrooms and sherry cream sauce. You can make a lot of this, put it into individual serving trays and freeze it for some night when you don’t want to cook, but you want something comforting.
Every Thanksgiving, The Good Plate goes crazy with people wanting to know how to roast a perfect turkey in a Nesco oven. Since I wrote the first article in 2009, I have made some significant changes to the preparation of the bird, mostly to cut down on time, but also to increase flavor and crispness of the skin. This year, in 2015, my bird was truly perfect, and everyone exclaimed about how much they don’t like breast meat because it’s too dry, but loved mine because it was nice and moist. If you want the older recipe with the liquid brine, please visit How to Make a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Roaster Oven.
I look forward to this day every year. I only get to have this sandwich once a year, because I only have the ingredients once a year. Yes, I could go out and purchase them at other times, and I could make the whole thing so I could have the leftovers at other times of the year, but it wouldn’t be the same. No, it just wouldn’t be the same.
I remember a few years ago, I went to dinner at someone’s house whose husband was allergic to turkey. Can you believe that? Allergic to turkey? A capon was served instead, it was good, but there were no leftovers. So, the day after Thanksgiving, I went to the supermarket, and tried to find some turkey. There was no fresh turkey, no even ground turkey. The deli was completely out of turkey, and even the deli section with the packaged luncheon meat was out. I promised myself then that I would NEVER be without turkey the day after Thanksgiving again – and I haven’t.
So, it’s just the two of us. We have a lot to be thankful for today. As a work-at-home Mom, I’ve been busy as a one armed paper-hanger. That’s great for my pocketbook, but for spending time with my wonderful son, not so good. Today, we’re going to cook together, play the Monopoly game we started last night (he’s winning), watch a movie, enjoy our meal, and just enjoy our time together.
When I went to the market looking for our feast, I had a bit of a problem. Since it is just going to be the two of us, I couldn’t see the sense in purchasing a whole turkey, it’s just too much food. All I’m concerned with is The Sandwich the next day. I don’t want to have to eat left over turkey until I start gobbling. I looked at a breast, because it’s smaller, but neither one of us likes breast meat, and I wanted something we both like. I said to Spane, “Gee, I wish turkeys came with just thighs and wings!” He said, “Mom, don’t they have parts? Why not just get parts?” I love my son! He is so smart! Sure enough, there was a nice package with two large thighs, and those were the ones I took home. Hurray!
I didn’t go to my Grandmother’s for Thanksgiving. My mother and I usually cooked a Cornish hen and left it at that. When my mother died, I moved in with my Aunt Georgia, my Grandmother and Grandfather. This is when I discovered really good turkey, the way turkey was supposed to be.
Every other time I had had turkey, it looked and tasted like my budgie’s cuttle bone. Seriously, I did not know why anyone would want to present something as nasty as that for a holiday all about giving thanks. What? You’re thankful that you don’t have to eat that?
I was curious at fifteen, and I liked to cook, so I hung around with my grandmother while she made the feast. The first thing I noticed was this strange pink colored oven thing that was in the middle of the kitchen. It had a little metal stand that it rested on. It also had a big red button and a dial to control the heat.
For years, I searched in vain for a gadget like this – I finally stumbled upon one in an antique shop on Western Avenue, where they also had a few unrestored Wedgewood stoves. I was finally able to find out what it was called – a Nesco.
One day, watching QVC because nothing else was on, and there was no Internet at that time, I saw a four quart Nesco and decided to order it. When it arrived I was so thrilled! It was too small to cook a turkey, but a nice chicken definately fit. It also made a mean meatloaf.
The thing that I really loved about my Nesco was that I could use it in the summer time without heating up my kitchen. I could use it to keep foods warm, and I would put fried chicken in it to make sure that it was completely cooked. I loved my little Nesco, and when we moved and it got lost, I was crest fallen.
However, I have always felt that every cloud has a silver lining, so losing the small one meant I could get a large one like my grandmother had. I found a used eighteen quart with the buffet service on Ebay and bought it.
My “new” Nesco arrived just before Thanksgiving, just in time to roast the turkey. It was very flavorful, moist and juicy, but, it did not have the nice crispy skin that my grandmother’s had had.
The next year, I tried a different approach. When I was nine years old, my mother asked me to put a roast of beef in the oven before she got home from work. I didn’t know any better, and I put the oven on to 450 degrees. After fifteen minutes or so, I could smell it and thought maybe the temperature was too high, so I lowered it to 300. It turned out perfect, moist and juicy. Starting it at high heat had seared the meat, sealing in the juices. From then on, I did that with anything I roasted, including turkeys.
I could do that in the Nesco, too, but it would still not have the crispy skin, so I came up with a new plan. First I would brine the turkey, then inject it with seasonings, then I would put it in a regular pan and put it in a 450 oven for 15 minutes, and then transfer it to the Nesco.
Wow! What a bird that was! It had the nicely browned, crispy skin from being in the oven, and was moist and juicy from being roasted in the Nesco.
Recipe: Turkey in a Nesco with Injection and Rub
15 pounds Turkey brined and washed
— Injection —
1 tablespoon Olive oil divided
1/4 cup Chicken broth
1 teaspoon Cooking Sherry
1 tablespoon Chopped Herbs see below
— Rub —
1 tablespoon Chopped Herbs
1 tablespoon Olive oil
— Chopped Herbs —
6 leaves Sage fresh
1 sprig Rosemary fresh
1 teaspoon Marjoram dried
1 teaspoon Thyme dried
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence dried
— Stuffing —
1 bunch Celery bottom root and tops only
2 Onion skins and roots only
1 Apple whole
Brine the turkey the day before – remove giblets and neck and reserve for the cat.
— Chopped Herbs —
Chop up the fresh herbs with the dried herbs. You will need half for this recipe and half for the rub.
— Rub —-
Add half the chopped herbs to olive oil and stir. Set aside.
— Injection —
Heat the herbs in the broth over low heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool. Strain and add liquid to olive oil. Set aside. You could add the remaining herbs to the rub.
— Preparation —
Preheat oven to 500. Have a roasting pan ready that will hold the Nesco removable roasting rack. Put the roasting rack in the Nesco pan. Put the onion skins in the cavity, and put the apple and celery bottom in the neck cavity. Put some of the liquid in the injector and start injecting the turkey all over the breast, thigh, legs and wings. Brush the turkey all over with the rub. Now, take the turkey with the rack and put it in the roasting pan.
Turn the Nesco to 325. Put the turkey in the oven and cook at 500 for 30 minutes. The turkey will be browned and crisp.
Remove the turkey from the oven carefully using the handles on the rack. Place the turkey with the rack in the Nesco. Cover.
Roast in the Nesco for another two to three hours, or until the internal temperature is 165. If you need to keep the bird warm, reduce to 200. Let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
The risk of cross contamination, and poisoning to is too great to put stuffing inside the bird’s cavity. The stuffing used here gives the bird flavor, but it easily removed.