Holiday Turkey Dinner

Food magazines struggle to fine their target audience.  This is an even greater problem as they try to reinvent the classic turkey dinner!

Food magazines begin to exhaust me. It’s the desperation, I think.  There are certainly more and newer and flashier bidders for the attention of the ever less accessible and definable ”target audience”. If you put your ear to the page, you can almost eavesdrop on their planning sessions. Who is our target audience? Who will buy our magazine?  Is it the old bird, the veteran of Julia Child’s army, huffing and puffing away in her kitchen until she finally manages to perfect traditional techniques?  Is it the ardent follower of Martha Stewart, that ultimate Stepford Wife, following clear and defined step by Stepford directions? Is it the harried working mother who, some days feels condemned, like the hapless Sisyphus, to roll an immense boulder up a hill every day, only to watch it come back, only to be pushed up again the next, who just needs to get anything on the table between rocks?  Is it the young keener to whom all this is shiny and new and who is itching to know how to make a salad? Or the vestal virgin of groats and granola who demands only the pure, the healthy, the unsullied?  It’s more of a snipe hunt than a safari, this pursuit of the elusive food magazine target audience.   

And in the effort to “put a new spin on the classics,” “to make traditional treats fast and easy,” “to create a light and healthy version of the old favorites” they sometimes forget that it isn’t always necessary to put a new spin on an old sacred cow.  Sometimes best to leave them alone to graze in peace.

A classic example is the classic Martini, of course, that has been battered and beaten beyond recognition. Really the only mad sister of the Martini that might be allowed into the club is the vodka option, and even that is a stretch. The Chocolatini and the Appletini should be firmly snubbed. Oh they are cocktails, I suppose, but to dub them ”martini’s” is simply pretentious. The glass no more defines the drink than the gown defines the girl.

But I sympathize with those who must suit up and find a way to entice people to buy a magazine with yet another turkey on the cover - all burgeoning breasts and legs in the air,  festooned with Brussels sprouts (with which everyone tries to tempt the dog). The problem is not that the traditional turkey dinner is boring. It’s that it’s perfect just the way it is, sprouts and all.  It’s perfect, not because it’s a “new fresh take on an old classic.” It’s perfect because it is an old classic!  And it doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s.  It just has to be like last year’s, and the year before. If the turkey was dry and the gravy was lumpy last year, that’s how it should be this year. Perfect. Following the same time-honoured, spattered recipes, made by the same hands, and the hands of the next generation pitching in and learning how.

Everyone has their favourite part.  Mine favourite might just be the leftovers. Maybe it’s the cheese…

I implore you to give this a try. It’s sure to become a part of your family tradition!

Turkey Dinner casserole:

Proportions, you will understand, will depend on what you have left. It really never seems to matter, however. If you had an overzealous crowd, you may need to supplement your supplies with boxed mashed potatoes or stuffing. Or a bag of mixed veg. It’s not time to be fussy. The”day after” should most certainly be a day off!

Spray a casserole dish or line with phyllo pastry if you’re going that route

Layer leftover stuffing in your casserole dish.

Chop and layer turkey over the stuffing.

Chop up a bit and layer whatever vegetables you have over the turkey. Some people add the gravy at this point if it looks a bit dry. This will probably depend on the moisture content of your stuffing. Or save the gravy to serve with the casserole. Your call.  Gravy should definitely factor in somewhere.

Mix Cream Cheese, if you have some, with leftover mashed potatoes. Or shredded cheddar cheese.  Or any handy shredded cheese. Or whatever was left on the cheese and crackers tray from yesterday.  Or no cheese, of course. Some people like to mix mayonnaise or sour cream in with their leftover mashed potatoes. Spread whatever you have concocted over top of all.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 min. or until heated through. Everything is cooked, of course, so this is just a heating, cheese melting, flavor blending process.

I would say serve with salad, but really, all food groups are represented in the casserole, and you will not be in the mood.  The house is more or less tidy, the leftovers are bubbling away in the oven, the kids are playing with their toys and gadgets, and all you really want to do is curl up with that new book you received and reflect on the turkey dinner. Which was, as always, perfect.