Beyond the Roasted Bird: The Turkey Gets a Delicious Makeover

TS-521184193 happy Thanksgiving

Like most Americans, Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite holidays. As much as I adore Christmas, you don’t have the pressure of finding perfect gifts or getting to church on time. The biggest concern is: what delicious version of a turkey dinner are you going to prepare and serve?

I love turkey. My mother always prepared it for holidays. Most of my friends and family like turkey, too, so they’re happy with the big roasted bird. But I know a number of people who don’t like it. They think turkey is bland and boring. And for those who just can’t face turkey sandwiches after the holiday, what else can you do with leftover turkey?

Through the years, I’ve developed turkey recipes that are just a little bit out of the box. I’ve served them at Thanksgiving, but they work for any time of the year. Of course, turkey is a superstar FoodTrient. It’s low in fat and high in protein, while also a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins. Turkey contains small but vital amounts of selenium, which can increase resistance to infection. A 3 ½ oz. portion of skinless turkey breast contains 161 calories, 4 grams of fat and a big 30 grams of protein.

TS-491728758 raw turkey

Another great feature of turkey breast is that it has its own very mild flavor and can take on the flavor(s) of whatever it’s cooked with. For example, the Turkey in Turmeric Sauce from my cookbook, The Age Gracefully Cookbook, contains plenty of this anti-inflammatory spice that’s a main ingredient in Indian curries. With its bright yellow color, turmeric pairs beautifully with turkey and its mild flavor goes well with garlic. Garlic contains high amounts of allicin, which decreases blood vessel stiffness and helps reduce blood pressure, decreasing the risk from coronary artery disease and stroke. It also has high levels of vitamin B-6, vitamin C, copper, iron and manganese. If you have leftover turkey from your Thanksgiving meal, this is a delicious way to use it.


Turkey in Turmeric Sauce




2 Tbs. peanut oil
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
½ cup chopped onion
2–3 lb. turkey breast, cut into medallions or thick strips
1 Tbs. fish sauce
2 tsp. turmeric powder or ½ cup Fresh Turmeric Juice
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
1 cup water
½ cup coconut milk, thick liquid only



  1. Heat the peanut oil in an enamel-coated cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add the turkey, fish sauce, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
    3. Add the water. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until turkey is tender, about 20 minutes.
    4. Add the thick part of the coconut milk to the pan and cook until the sauce is thick, about
    5–10 minutes.


For an elegant presentation, try this recipe for Stuffed Turkey Rolls, which is impressive and delicious. Because I marinate the turkey before cooking, it’s juicy and flavorful and the red wine (I use a Pinot Noir) adds a bit of resveratrol to the selenium’s antioxidant power.


Stuffed Turkey Rolls




¼ cup soy sauce
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
2 Tbs. red wine
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
6 turkey cutlets or butterflied turkey breasts
1 recipe Savory Stuffing
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil



  1. To make the marinade, combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, red wine, salt, and pepper in a large re-sealable plastic bag.
    2. Add the turkey cutlets to the bag. Squeeze out the air, seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
    3. Remove cutlets, reserving the marinade. Pat each cutlet dry with paper towels.
    4. On a work surface, lay one cutlet so it slightly overlaps a second one. Pound the seam together with a mallet. You should have one fairly large, thin turkey round. Repeat with the remaining cutlets until you have 3 rounds.
    5. Spread about 1/2 cup of Savory Stuffing evenly onto each turkey round, smoothing almost to the edge. Roll up the turkey, pinwheel style, and secure with kitchen twine.
    6. Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey rolls and sear until a golden crust develops, about 1–2 minutes per side.
    7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place turkey rolls in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Spoon the reserved marinade and any remaining stuffing around the rolls. Cover with foil and bake until the turkey is cooked through, about 20–30 minutes.
    8. Before serving, remove the twine and cut each turkey roll into 5 slices.


Finally, you can try my recipe for Turkey Meatballs with Parsley and Mushroom Gravy. For a variation on the meatball recipe, once you’ve prepared the turkey meatballs (without the gravy), you can serve them with spaghetti and tomato sauce for a FoodTrient-style version of this always popular dish. Versatile, healthful and delicious, prepare any of these turkey recipes, and people will gobble them up any time of year!

About Grace O

Grace O has been cooking and baking professionally and recreationally all of her adult life. As a child in Southeast Asia, she learned the culinary arts by her mother’s side in her family’s cooking school. She became so well versed in hospitality and the culinary arts, she eventually took over the cooking school and opened three restaurants. She is widely credited with popularizing shrimp on sugar-cane skewers and being one of the first culinarians to make tapas a global trend. She has cooked for ruling families and royalty. Grace O’s move to America precipitated a career in healthcare, inspired by her father, who was a physician. Twenty years and much hard work later, she operates skilled nursing facilities in California. Grace O strives to create flavorful food using the finest ingredients that ultimately lead to good health. Her recipes, although low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, are high in flavor. Grace employs spices from all over the world to enliven her dishes, creating food that is different and delicious. She believes that food can be just as effective at fighting aging as the most expensive skin creams. And since she’s over 50 herself, she’s living proof of that.
What Do FoodTrients Do?
Ai Anti- inflammatories

Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.

Ao Anti- oxidant

Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

IB Immunity Boosters

Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.

MB Mind

Improves mood, memory, and focus.

F Disease Prevention

Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.