About 10 days ago, I was browsing the poultry section at Shaw's and found "hotel-style" turkey breasts on sale. I guess they're called "hotel-style" because they'll feed a small hotel — I'd estimate 12 to 15 people. I lugged home the smallest one, which weighed 9-1/2 pounds, noting that the cooking instructions on the wrapper only gave roasting times for birds up to 8 pounds. I paid just $12 instead of the regular $30. I was thrilled. I'd snagged one of these on sale last year around this time and it had fed our little family for many days. Our cats love turkey.
These birds are pre-basted — i.e., brined — so the meat is juicy and salty. You don't need to do much besides rub on some butter, stick it in the oven, and wait for the timer to pop. The bird browned impressively. My husband is a good carver and was amazed at how much meat there was.
The first couple of nights, our turkey dinners were sumptuous and satisfying. The carcass also produced three jars of my darkest, richest-looking stock ever. (For some reason, this turkey breast had legs.) The cats ate their fill, too.
But the leftovers were overwhelming. Every time I'd see that huge container of meat in the refrigerator, I'd feel a small wave of guilt. I'd planned to make turkey salad, and pot pies to freeze. But I totally lost interest. So we ate turkey sandwiches as I procrastinated, wishing I were eating ham, or peanut butter, or anything else instead.
Finally, when the turkey was on the verge of going bad, I gritted my teeth and chopped it up, which took a long time. Whenever I'm confronted with too much meat, I realize how close I am to becoming vegetarian. It filled a mixing bowl. I made some of it into turkey salad as quickly I could, adding carrots and peas in tribute to the great salad they served at Formaggio's in the Garage, back in the '80s. How I loved it then.
How I loathed it now, after all that time spent handling meat. I couldn't even taste it: Turkey Overload. My husband pronounced it delicious. I ate toast. I also froze some chopped meat, as I should have done the night I roasted it.
Yesterday I threw out all the leftovers. I even tossed the frozen turkey because I decided it had been in the fridge for too many days. Putting it all down the disposal took forever. I hate to waste food but I was relieved to see it go.
I'm dreading Thanksgiving. Because of our complicated family situation, we usually drive 700 miles round-trip in two days, in-between sitting through three Thanksgiving dinners in a row in three different states. I'd better be back in the turkey mood by then.
But tonight, I would like a bowl of spaghetti.