I know, the holidays are over. Turkey Day is but a memory and holiday feasts are past. For many the thought of turkey has been put to rest for another year, but not in Mama D’s Kitchen. I was once again given a turkey at work and as the holidays played out I, didn’t have an opportunity to cook it, so the little fella sat in the freezer waiting for the time to be right to bring joy to the table.
That time came last weekend when a cold spell kept us indoors and something from the oven just seemed right. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of “spatchcocking” a turkey. It is somewhat of a trend these days and though it is not my style, I thought I’d take a brief ride on the bandwagon. Little did I know….
Spatchcocking is the act/art of removing the backbone from a fowl, breaking the breastbone and creating if not a poultry pancake, a relatively flat bird. This flat bird has the ability to brown on all skin surfaces and cook in record time. That is, once you have the backbone out. Poultry shears are the tool of choice to accomplish this. Alas, my poultry shears have disappeared. They were my mother’s, and as mothers will do, she created such fear that I might cut off a finger that I put them in a drawer or box somewhere to protect my digits from certain peril and thus lost track of them.
Not to fear (I thought), I had brand new kitchen shears and Papa D (complete with latex-free gloves) to take on the task. This would be quick and easy…not so much. Turkey bones are tough and the process feels a little like surgery gone terribly wrong. After a 30 minute wrestling match the backbone was out and off to the stock pot. Papa D cracked the breastbone with his gloved hands while standing on a step stool for leverage (I’m glad the online directions suggested that, and that I didn’t scoff at the suggestion). At last, the bird was laid out to meet its ultimate date with destiny.To make sure he would retain his innate moistness, I coated him with herb laced butter and olive oil, making sure that he was well lubed under the skin as well. Finally he was ready for the oven.An hour later he was beautifully golden and at the correct internal temperature. After a bit of a rest the bird was carved with the greatest of ease and became the star attraction of a wonderful meal. Will I do this again? Absolutely. Will I invest in poultry shears? Damn skippy.As with every turkey ever served there was an abundance of leftovers. There were sandwiches and salads and care packages to the children, and I still had enough left to create a casserole. I decided to make my version of Chicken Divan. This casserole from the 50’s features broccoli, and chicken in a creamy cheese laced sauce. I elaborated on the idea by switching the protein to turkey and adding mushrooms, garlic, and shallots to the sauce.Milk, turkey stock, and a touch of sherry were the liquid base of the sauce. Herbs de Provence and Dijon mustard bumped up the flavor and created a sauce that beautifully coated the broccoli and turkey.
A cheese laced panko crumb topping ensured that it would emerge from the oven golden and delicious. And it did.I made a casserole that served three generously. An odd number, I know, but it makes a lovely dinner for two and some lucky person gets a fabulous lunch the next day. If you have more mouths to feed, you can easily double this recipe.
The original Chicken Divan would make an equally delicious dish, and unless you have a whole turkey lying around just waiting to be given the ” spatchcock treatment”, it might be a more practical choice. (I bet it’s a whole lot easier, too.)