Turkey Adventures

Thanksgiving turkey is such a tradition, it’s hard to imagine the perfect holiday dinner without it.  But, when faced with wresting a big honking turkey  I’ve often fantasized with options less overwhelming… like succulent bundles of turkey wrapped around a luscious filling.

This year, it finally came to pass.  Of course, my fantasy wasn’t quite as easy as imagined.  It would have been smart to prepare the exotic mushroom pâté ahead of the big day.  I opted to go with a fresh turkey breast cavity… with two breasts.  That meant double the effort; and naturally, I wanted to test this idea in the multi-cooker.

The good news is that it worked out just fine.  Once I had boned the first breast and pounded it out, the second went very quickly.  Happily, the two stuffed and rolled breasts fit nicely in the bottom of the pot, too. The mushroom pâté filling was the perfect complement, it provided great flavor which penetrated into the the turkey breasts.  Apologetically, there was such urgency to eat, I was barely able to get one photo…

More good news.  My favorite part of the turkey is the skin, so how would that work in a pressure cooker? Turns out, browning the breasts in the pot with a sprinkling of paprika was enough insurance to maintain a beautiful color and tasty skin—no flabby weirdness!  With a mere 20 minute whirl in the multi-cooker, dinner was ready in a flash.  Now that’s something to be thankful for!

Turkey Breasts Stuffed with Mushroom Pâté, Multi-Cooker

Whole turkey breast, bone-in, skin on (2 breasts total)
Salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 cup chicken stock

Mushroom Pâté
1/4 pound mushrooms, combination domestic, exotic and dried soaked, sliced
1 tablespoon butter and evoo combination
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, rosemary, sage each
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons dry sherry or brandy
3 green onions, chopped
½ lemon, juice of, approximate


  1. Prepare pâté and cool completely: sauté the  mushrooms in butter and oil to soften, add garlic and toss, add thyme and rosemary, sage, nutmeg and salt and pepper add sherry, cook down, and point up with lemon juice if necessary.   Process until well minced, not pureed.  There should be no liquid.  This can be done ahead.
  2. Bone the turkey breasts: with boning knife, remove one breast at a time from the cavity. From the top of the cavity, cut the breast away from the bone, scrape down with boning knife along the bone to loosen; work around the cavity until the breast is removed. There will the oyster and other random pieces which can be used or reserved for another purpose. Repeat with second breast.
  3. Lay out one breast at a time, skin side down and cut horizontally from the narrowest part of the breast to about ¾” from the thick end. Open the breast to form a large piece. Cover with plastic wrap and pound evenly to ½” thick.  Season both sides with salt and pepper. Repeat.
  4. To fill and roll: Divide the pâté in half. Cut side up, starting in the center of each breast, spread an even layer of pâté over the cut sides, leaving ½” or more uncovered at edges. Roll the breasts up by starting at narrowest part of the breast and tightly roll up like a jelly roll, tucking in the edges.  Tie the rolls securely with kitchen twine.
  5. With multi-cooker set to Saute, heat enough oil to thoroughly coat the bottom of the pot until shimmering. Brown the two rolls on all sides for about 10 minutes, adding a light dusting of paprika.  Pour in 1 cup chicken stock and heat the stock. Turn off the pot and reset to High Pressure for 20 minutes (45 minutes to 1 hour in conventional oven).  Seal the pot and bring to pressure.  Once the cycle is complete turn off the pot and let the pressure come down normally for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the lid and check the internal temperature. It should reach at least 155 degrees, as it will continue to cook as it sits.  If not, reset pot for another 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the breasts to a warming plate or board, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes before artfully carving into slices. The pan dripping will make delicious gravy.  Yield: 2 rolls, 4 or more servings.






I discovered a forgotten package of turkey wings stranded in the back of the freezer that need cooking. I decided to roast them ahead for snacking and mid-week dinners.

chilled turkey winglets
chilled turkey winglets

Perhaps it is some sort of atavistic throwback to my ape heritage, but I love gnawing on roasted chicken or turkey wings.  Divided into three parts, the turkey wing tip is great finger food and the middle section with plenty of white meat, makes a great serving portion. The largest piece is paramount to a huge leg; there is plenty of dark meat for sandwiches, tacos, and makes a convenient protein for a pasta dish.

Turkey really benefits from a good soak in brine: it removes any impurities and tenderizes the meat.  I  let the wings partially defrost, submerged them in lightly seasoned brine, then socked them away in the refrigerator for an overnight stay in a zip lock bag.  Occasionally I would flip them and give them a little massage to encourage even defrosting and brining.

Later the next day I drained the wing pieces, patted them dry, rubbed them with a hearty paste of smoked paprika, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil—and popped them into the oven for a good roasting. It wasn’t long before the entire house was filled with mouthwatering aromas of smoked turkey.

This is such mindless cooking that I am always amazed at how delicious the turkey turns out, whether it is thighs, legs, breasts or wings.  I ask the same question:  “Why did I wait so long?”

Roast Turkey Wings

2 turkey wings, cut into 3 pieces each
½ cup salt
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ tsp red pepper flakes
6 cups (approximate) water to cover
Smoked Paprika Paste:
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
Juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil, approx.

1.  Wash and cut up the turkey pieces.
2.  For brining:  In 2 cup container combine the salt in about 1 cup of hot water to dissolve;  add the bay, garlic and red pepper flakes. Place the turkey pieces in a large zip lock bag or container, pour in the brine and enough water to barely cover the turkey.
3.  Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally to brine evenly.
4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a roasting pan with foil and spray or wipe with oil.  Remove the turkey from brine, rinse lightly and pat dry.
5.  Combine the smoked paprika, garlic, lemon juice, and salt with enough olive oil for a paste. Rub this evenly over all turkey surfaces.  Place on baking pan and roast for about 2 hours, turning every 30 minutes, until the skin is well browned all over and crispy.   Serves 2 to 4.