Showing posts with label Thanksgiving turkey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thanksgiving turkey. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to Make My Favorite Retro Diner Sandwich by Cleo Coyle

Prices at the deli counter have been giving my husband and I sticker shock for some time now. If you’re making lunch for one or two, the prices are tolerable. But if you’re buying for an entire family or a hungry group, be prepared to take out a second mortgage to pay the bill. 

Here in New York City, premium turkey breast is $8.00 (and more) a pound. We prefer to roast our own turkey sandwich meat for a fraction of that price, and we seldom fuss with a big bird. We simply use a small (6 to 7 pound) turkey breast. 

So here’s a simple recipe for buffet-style turkey. You can use it for a traditional meat-and-potatoes main meal or sandwich-slicing (or both)...

Cleo Coyle's husband is also
her partner in crime-writing.
Together they write
The Coffeehouse
Cleo Coyle’s 
Retro Deli-style
Roast Turkey

This small, all-white meat turkey breast tastes better than anything you can get at the deli counter. It's perfect for making our favorite retro diner sandwich, too, an open-faced turkey with mashed potatoes.

Our secret ingredient is a pair of turkey wings (or even two pairs). Small turkey breasts usually come without wings, but we buy them separately for roasting right along with the bird. The wings render plenty of extra juices for making the rich gravy. See the gravy recipe below this one, and... 

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo


6 to 8 pound turkey breast

+ 2 to 4 turkey wings
   (optional, for extra gravy juices)

3/4 stick (6 T) softened butter

1 teaspoon Bell Seasoning

1 teaspoon Poultry Seasoning

½ teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoon Smokehouse Pepper

½ teaspoon ground sage

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 tablespoon cooking oil or cooking spray


Above is a standard (wingless) turkey breast of about 7 pounds. Depending on the area where you live, you will either find these in your grocery store or something called "Hotel-Style Breasts," which are sold mainly in the Northeast. The Hotel-Style Breasts are perfect for a buffet. They are generally larger than a regular turkey breast (closer to 10 pounds instead of 4-8), and they have the wings attached. Like the big (15 to 35 pound) turkeys, many brands of Hotel-Style Turkey include a packet of giblets. Small turkey breasts like the one above do not include giblets.


Step 1—Prep the slurry: First preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. When the butter is soft, place it in a bowl and add your Bell Seasoning, Poultry Seasoning, white pepper, Smokehouse Pepper, ground sage, and Kosher salt. Blend everything well with a fork until you have a beautiful green slurry. Wash the turkey breast and pat dry. If using wings, remove the wing tips, wash, and pat dry.

Step 2—Prep the bird: Line a shallow baking or roasting pan with aluminum foil. Grease the rack that sits on top. Place the turkey on the rack, and (if using) position wings on either side of the breast. Slather the breast with the slurry you made in Step 1. Massage the slurry under the skin to impart the flavor into the meat. 

You can coat the wings with the slurry, as well. Or simply salt and pepper the wings instead since you're cooking these wings for their juices rather than their meat. 

The wings in my photo above are not attached.
Most small turkey breasts come without wings.
Marc and I like to buy the wings separately and
roast them with the turkey for extra pan juices.

We often roast a second pair
of wings in a separate pan.

Step 3—Roast and cool: Roast the breast, uncovered, according to package instructions, or about 20 minutes per pound. During the last hour, baste the meat in its own juices every fifteen minutes or so. When the meat reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F, remove from oven, tent loosely with foil, and let sit for AT LEAST 30 MINUTES before slicing. Trust me on this! The resting period will keep your turkey nice and moist. If you slice it too soon after removing it from the oven, the juices will run out and the turkey meat will taste dry. 

Amazing pan juices
come from the wings.

Cleo's Favorite Retro Diner Sandwich...

Open-Faced Turkey
with Mashed Potatoes
and Gravy!

For a single serving...

A few juicy slices of freshly roasted turkey

A hearty scoop of mashed potatoes

2 slices of white bread (yes, it has to be white!)

Plenty of gravy (recipe below)

While the turkey is cooling, make mashed potatoes and gravy. Most home cooks have their favorite way to make mashed potatoes. If you feel adventurous, you can try my healthier potato, garlic, and carrot mash. It's absolutely delicious and very easy to make. Get the recipe here.

Good gravy and lots of it is the key to this deli-classic...

Turkey Gravy

Makes about 1 ½ cups


2 cups pan drippings
  (or enough chicken stock to make 2 cups)

2 Tablespoons Wondra flour

Salt and pepper to taste


Step 1—Make a roux: While the turkey is cooling, pour off the pan drippings and let them cool. Skim off two tablespoons of fat from these drippings and warm this small amount of fat in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour until the mixture thickens. You’ve just created a roux. Now gently cook until the roux turns slightly brown (1-3 minutes).

Step 2—Finish the gravy: Measure your remaining pan drippings. If you have less than 2 cups, pour in enough chicken stock to make the full two. Whisk these two cups of drippings (and/or stock) into the roux that you made in Step 1. Heat the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat but continue to stir and let the gravy simmer until it thickens and the flour cooks (4 to 5 minutes). The key here--
to prevent the gravy from breaking--really is stirring! Add salt and pepper to taste, serve hot, and...

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

Now a National
Bestseller in Hardcover

A Coffeehouse Mystery 

*Starred Review* -Kirkus

"Top Pick"  -RT Book Reviews

"...a highly satisfying mystery."
-Publishers Weekly

See the book's
Recipe Guide
by clicking here.

* * * 

Coffeehouse Mystery
Free Title Checklist
(with mini plot summaries)

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
13 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

* * * 

Haunted Bookshop
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Easy "Leftover Turkey" Pot Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust and "No Brainer" White Sacue

This baby’s super easy to make. And, let’s be real, after your Thanksgiving day cook-athon, it's a relief to make a simple, one-dish dinner. The leftover pie keeps well in the fridge, too, and tastes just as good reheated for lunch the day after you make it.

Servings: 6 slices (fills one 9-inch pie pan)

Ingredients: For "No Brainer" White Sauce
1 cup cold milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Wondra Flour (see product picture at end of recipe)

For Pie Filling
2 to 2-1/2 cups cooked turkey cut up into bite size pieces (Thanksgiving leftovers will do nicely)
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (do not thaw!)

For Crust1 package Pillsbury pie crusts (room temperature)
2 cups mild cheddar cheese shredded

Step 1: Make an easy white sauceWondra flour is the key here. If you've never used it, Wondra is a super-fine flour that dissolves quickly into liquids, allowing you to make smooth sauces and gravies. (I pasted a picture of the product below.) Here's how to make the easy white sauce: In a saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat, add the butter and stir until it melts. Add the salt and pepper. While continuing to stir, sprinkle the Wondra flour over the warm milk mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil and stir for a full minute. (Yields 1 cup of white sauce.)

Step 2: Add frozen veggies and cooked turkey
Once your white sauce is finished, turn off the heat. Dump the frozen* mixed vegetables into the saucepan with the white sauce and stir to coat. Add the turkey and stir again, until the veggies and turkey are well mixed in with the white sauce. Set aside. *NOTE: You are not cooking or thawing the frozen veggies. The vegetables will thaw during the baking process, which will give them the perfect texture by the time the pie is fully baked.

Step 3: Cheese-ify your pie dough
This is a "quick and easy" recipe, which is why I'm using pre-made pie crusts. One package of "Pillsbury Pie Crusts" is all you'll need since it contains 2 unbaked pie shells, enough for 1 turkey pot pie. The pre-made crusts come rolled up inside the box. Allow both dough rolls to come to room temperature (about 15 minutes out of fridge or 15 seconds in the microwave). Gently unroll the crusts on a flat surface, and sprinkle each crust with 1 cup of the shredded cheddar. Lightly press the cheese into the softened dough. If the dough is too hard, it's still too cold from coming out of the fridge. Let it sit for another few minutes until soft. (If you aren't a big fan of cheddar cheese, try Swiss, gruyere, or another fave. Fusing it with the dough may seem odd, but it's a better way to use the cheese than just dumping it into the filling where it can overpower your other flavors. This way, the cheese crosses your taste buds during your chewing of the flaky, buttery crust. It's a much more interesting eating experience!)

Step 4: Fill your pieTo prevent sticking, spray a 9-inch pie pan with Pam or another cooking spray. Line the pan with one of the pre-made pie crusts (cheese side up). Fill with your veggie-turkey-white-sauce mixture. Cover with the second pie shell (cheese side down; i.e. facing the filling). Now seal the edges and make a few thin slits with a knife on the top of the shell to let steam escape. To prevent the edges of your pie from browning too much or burning, loosely curl strips of aluminum foil around the crust edges.

Step 5: Bake
Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 minute (until crust is golden). In the last 15 minutes of baking, be sure to remove the aluminum foil strips from around the crust edges so your edges will brown!

CLEO NOTE: If you've never used Wondra Flour, look for its blue cardboard canister in the same grocery store aisle that shelves all-purpose flour. It's a handy little helper for thickening gravies and making quick sauces. You can make an easy cheese sauce for vegetables by adding 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese to the white sauce recipe above.

For more of my recipes or to find out more about the books
in my Coffeehouse Mystery series, click this link to my virtual home at

Eat with Joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries
"Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

A Coffeehouse Mystery
Now a National Bestseller!

Text and photos coypright (c) 2009 by Alice Alfonsi
who writes as Cleo Coyle in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini
To leave a comment, hit the COMMENT
hot link below...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Talking Turkey

We've had such fun with our Iron Chef Pumpkin week. Next month we'll be featuring another secret ingredient, suggested by our winner Molly Ebert. But don't despair. We're taking suggestions for a secret ingredient to cook with in January. It's not too early to send in your suggestions. And just for the holidays, this time the prize is a Junior's Cheesecake, delivered right to your door!

Today we're kicking off a week of Thanksgiving recipes here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Most of us are heading to the grocery store to buy a turkey this week, so I thought I'd start with some information to help us all understand what we're buying.

Next Saturday, I'll post about the basics of brining and roasting a turkey. If you're picking up a turkey and you plan to brine it, don't forget to buy a box of Kosher salt.

Heritage turkeys are probably the most expensive turkeys you'll find. Considered by many to be the cream of the crop, they supposedly have a richer flavor, are moister, and have a preferred texture. Most turkeys you'll find in the grocery store are broad-breasted white turkeys. Heritage turkeys include breeds like Narragansett, Bourbon Red, and Jersey Buff. These birds are often organic and free-range as well. You'll note that I said "supposedly" above. These birds come with a hefty price tag ranging from $95 to $225. I have not eaten one so I can't claim to know if they actually are better. Most heritage turkey farmers take orders very early in the fall, so you may have trouble finding one now, although some specialty stores may have ordered extras. One of my favorite sources of local foods is and you might still find one there.

Apparently, the label "organic" is evolving, at least where turkeys are concerned. A bit of research indicates that the label means, at the very least, that the turkeys have been fed organic feed, have had access to outdoors, and no antibiotics have been administered. Hormone use is prohibited in all poultry, so that shouldn't be an issue in any turkey. Organic turkeys are generally available between $30 and $80 depending on the size.

These turkeys have had access to the outdoors. Not only is it kinder and more humane to raise turkeys with room to roam, their diet is more varied, which many claim produces superior meat.

Kosher turkeys are slaughtered in a method designed to rid the bird of blood. They are prepared under Rabbinical supervision and salted. Because of the salting, these birds should not be brined, but are often considered superior in flavor.

These birds have been injected with a solution to make them moister and more flavorful. The solution can be a variety of ingredients, including water, butter, fats, broth, and spices. The ingredients are generally listed on the front of the turkey. Since they have already been injected with a solution, these birds should not be brined.

Fresh food is always better than frozen (well, except for ice cream!). But frozen turkeys are perfectly good. You simply have to remember to thaw them well in advance. Don't worry, you'll get a reminder from me next Saturday when I tackle the basics of roasting.

~ Krista

Is it turkey yet?

Not yet, Queenie. Soon. Very soon!