Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated annually on the second Monday of October. In the past, I would go to the grocery store on the second Tuesday of October and scope around for the half-price turkey or ham sales. This year, I am thankful for early frozen turkey specials. A number of grocery stores, discounted their frozen utility turkeys prior to Thanksgiving. At less than a $1/lb ($0.97/lb at No Frills, $0.95/lb at Walmart, $0.88/lb at Food Basics), you can’t beat that price for any kind of lean meat.
If you are cooking for a crowd, I still recommend paying a little bit extra for a plump, fresh, Grade A turkey. There’s no worse feeling than sweating bullets over a frozen bird that won’t thaw out in time to feed your hungry guests, although presenting a wingless bird to your family and friends comes in as a close second. “Utility” turkeys may have tears in the skin or parts missing, and because they are wrapped in opaque plastic, you won’t have any idea until it’s cooking time. Sometimes it’s only the giblets that are missing if you’re lucky but it’s hit and miss.
I always suggest stocking up on cheap, frozen turkeys for everyday meals. It’s difficult to buy whole turkeys unless it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter so I always buy an extra couple and stash them in my deep freezer for a rainy/snowy day. You can roast a turkey for an easy Sunday dinner while doing laundry and have enough for leftovers and sandwiches for the week. It sure beats buying expensive, processed deli meat! If you don’t want to eat turkey for breakfast, lunch and dinner, just strip the meat off the bones, slice it up and freeze the cooked turkey to make a fast meal another day (e.g. turkey pot pie, clubhouse sandwiches). I usually boil down the turkey carcass for stock and then make congee, a Chinese rice soup (recipe follows below). My friend recommends using the turkey stock instead of water to cook rice for extra flavour. There are many delicious and cheap possibilities when you have leftover turkey. Simply ask some of your friends or search the Turkey Farmers of Canada web site for recipe ideas!
9 cups of turkey stock
1 cup of long grain white rice, rinsed
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
green onions (optional garnish)
salt to taste
Bring the turkey stock to a boil. Add the ginger and rice. Simmer on low for 1.5 to 2 hours until the soup looks like runny porridge. Remove ginger and add salt to taste. Garnish with chopped green onions before serving.