Cap off your turkey meals with mushrooms

November 23, 2005|By ROB KASPER

Around Thanksgiving, cooks are especially fond of leftovers. Having knocked themselves out to put a gigantic feast on the table Thursday, they are ready to take a day off, or at least perform light kitchen duties on Friday.

Side dishes can be reheated. Any remaining pieces of pie can be fought over, but the turkey usually needs some help to perform a second act.

Mimi Brodeur is familiar with leftovers. As a home cook and mother of a boy and three girls ranging from 16 to 9 years old, she has occasionally recast yesterday's supper to come up with a quick meal.

So when I spoke with her by phone recently from her Hershey, Pa., home and asked what she likes to do with leftover turkey, she had plenty of answers.

She mentioned putting the turkey meat in a barley soup, stuffing it in a sandwich with bacon and cheddar cheese, making fajitas with it or burying it in vegetable-rich potpie. Then she suggested a dish that sounded especially appealing, mixing shredded turkey with ravioli and mushrooms and covering it with cream sauce.

All of her turkey treatments paired the bird with mushrooms. This is no coincidence. Brodeur has just written Mushroom Cookbook, a 100-page collection of recipes for white and exotic mushroom varieties published by Stackpole Books.

A freelance restaurant reviewer for The Harrisburg Patriot-News newspaper and a graduate of Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne cooking school in Paris, Brodeur said she is always ready to find new ways to cook mushrooms. Her children, however, are not as fond of the fungi as she and her husband are.

Having served as the taste-test panel for most of the 65 recipes in the book, her kids have grown wary of edible fungus.

"One of the first questions they ask when I serve something new at supper," Brodeur told me last week, "is, `Does this dish have any mushrooms in it?'"

Accordingly, she has come up with the "mushroom compromise" for her family. Often she places mushrooms only in one side of a dish, leaving the other side fungi-free.

"We have the adult side and the kids' side," she said.

Eventually her offspring may come to appreciate the flavor nuances that mushrooms bring to dishes, she said. But in the meantime, she is not going to force-feed mushrooms to her family, at least not now that the recipe testing for her cookbook is wrapped up. She did, however, admit that she might occasionally try to hide mushrooms in a dish by chopping them into small pieces and burying them in the bottom.

As for the type of mushrooms that go well with leftover turkey, she mentioned the cremini. These brown mushrooms resemble the common white or button mushrooms in shape and size. But, she said, "they have a more pronounced flavor." Maitakes, known as "hen of the woods," also work well with cooked turkey.

She does not, she said, forage for mushrooms in the wild. Instead she buys them from established retailers. The only mushroom hunting she said she does consists of searching the Internet for sites that sell hard-to-get mushroom varieties.

Adding the mushrooms to turkey leftovers gives the dish a pleasant mixture of nutty and earthy flavors, she said. The homemade cream sauce and the cheesy-filled ravioli add moisture and texture to the turkey, she said. If you are pressed for time, or still exhausted from putting on a major Thanksgiving Day feed, you can substitute bottled Alfredo sauce, two jars, in this dish, she said. But she prefers the homemade sauce.

This Thanksgiving, Brodeur said, she and her family will be in Baltimore, enjoying the feast with relatives.

She won't be in charge of the turkey, she said. But she might be in charge of the leftovers.

rob.kasper@baltsun.com

Baked Cheesy Turkey Ravioli

Serves 4 to 6

9-ounce package fresh or frozen four-cheese ravioli

3 cups baked turkey cut into 1/2 -inch-by-2-inch strips

1/4 cup thick sliced green onions

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, maitake, trumpet or oyster)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

cream sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil a 12-by-9-by-3-inch gratin dish, oval or square.

Prepare cream sauce and set aside (recipe follows).

In a large pot of boiling water, cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain well, then scatter evenly into baking dish. Distribute turkey and green onions among ravioli.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over moderately high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and saute until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Fold mushrooms throughout ravioli mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheese and cream sauce over ravioli. Bake in middle of oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Per serving (based on 6 servings): 683 calories; 32 grams protein; 55 grams fat; 33 grams saturated fat; 15 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 229 milligrams cholesterol; 839 milligrams sodium

CREAM SAUCE

Yields 4 cups

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1 cup chicken stock

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 pinches nutmeg

Melt butter in a saucepan or on top of a double broiler over moderate heat. Whisk in flour and cook until mixture is foamy. Whisking constantly, stir in chicken stock, cream, salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Per serving (based on 1 tablespoon): 34 calories; 0 grams protein; 3 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 1 gram carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 12 milligrams cholesterol; 38 milligrams sodium

From "Mushroom Cookbook" by Mimi Brodeur (Stackpole Books, 2005)

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