Alright everyone, it’s turkey time! Mild, versatile and nutritionally rich, it’s not surprising that turkey is such a popular protein, both for holiday showstoppers and everyday meals. Turkey always takes the spotlight around Thanksgiving, but with diners craving more culinary diversity and becoming more adventurous eaters there’s plenty of room to break away from the standard “meat and three” plating and look to new twists on classic turkey prep.
When contemplating ways to incorporate turkey into your menu, the first thing you should consider is it’s year-round appeal. Food Management reports, “According to the National Turkey Federation, over the past 40 years turkey has been transformed from a single-product, holiday-centric business into an integrated industry with a varied product line. In 1970, about half of all turkey consumed in the U.S. took place during the holidays; by 2012, that figure had declined to 31 percent.” While the United State’s consumption of turkey is much less than that of chicken, turkey is just as easy to cook and much larger in size, making it more suitable for creating restaurant dishes. It’s clear that turkey is not meant for just one month, and the innovative forms and sizes it can be purchased in, from sliced to ground, only help the case for featuring turkey year-round.
An adaptable protein, turkey easily takes on other flavors while being mild so it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. It also lends itself well to creating different flavor profiles when combined with other ingredients. While sandwiches will always remain a classic format for turkey, more and more chefs are looking to new accompaniments and platforms for the protein. Shaped by varying ethnic and culinary influences, turkey can be found in many diverse recipes with inspiration ranging from Latin to Asian and every region in between.
Beyond burgers, wraps, tacos and chili, the opportunities to use turkey are seemingly endless. For example, Billy Akunna, executive chef of Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Malaysia utilizes turkey to make paella, a Spanish classic. If you’re looking to diversify your sides served with some classic roasted turkey, try chipotle-roasted baby carrots or sweet potato gnocchi.
Turkey is also able to transcend meal occasions to find a place at every meal. As the weather cools down, turkey sausage gravy and biscuits provide a hearty breakfast meal, as First Watch has found through their breakfast offering. For lunch, try a turkey soup that will have everyone warmed within seconds. When entertaining and looking for hors d’oeuvres options, look no further than some turkey wontons with cranberry salsa – a fresh take on classic holiday flavors. And of course, turkey tetrazzini makes for an excellent, filling dinner.
With the versatility of turkey, you’ll be able to use your creativity and come up with innovative new menu items that are still familiar to diners. Try these delicious recipes to incorporate turkey into your menu this season, and beyond: