I practically fell off the treadmill laughing the other day when I saw the commercial where the woman wrestles an enormous raw turkey around her kitchen have you seen it? I recommend taking a critical inventory of your holiday traditions and discarding the ones that drain your energy, especially where food preparation is concerned. A wise woman I know says, "If you're being dragged around, let go of the leash!"
My darling sister and I have made tofu turkey together for many years; even though she's the only vegetarian anymore, it's become a highlight meal for us. (A couple years ago we sent this recipe in to Vegetarian Times and they printed it! With our pictures, even!) Consider giving this a try even if you're an omnivore, if you expect vegetarian guests or if you just want to shock your more conservative relatives. Tofu turkey is surprisingly yummy and very easy to
make and homemade totally beats those frozen concoctions many non-carnivores are subjected to each year at this time. Not as much protein as turkey meat, but far less saturated fat and, oh, just easier and kinder, no messing with viscera or pinfeathers, needing no meat thermometer, and offering no risk of salmonella. If you put sage in the stuffing you still get that evocative Thanksgiving aroma.
(By the way, did you know the selective breeding of commercial turkeys has resulted in males who have such large breasts that they are no longer able to stand up enough to have sex? So virtually all those shrink-wrapped frozen jobs at Hannaford and Shaw's, besides being injected with who knows what, are the result of artificial insemination. Just a little bit of holiday trivia you can share over cocktails . . . )
May your holiday be peaceful and healthy and filled with gratitude for simple things like choices.
Tofu Turkey with Stuffing and Mushroom Gravy
(Serves 8 as main course, 20 "just having a taste")
You will need:
4 16 oz. tubs of organic extra firm tofu
1/4 to 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup olive oil
Shake of sesame oil
Curly leaf kale or other greens for garnish
Plus for stuffing:
Your choice conventional bread stuffing or something edgy, like wild rice and prunes. You will need about 5 cups total to fill the turkey.
Plus for gravy:
Large onion, 10-12 oz. package sliced mushrooms, 3/4 cup any kind of wine, 3/4 cup any kind of broth, 3T each olive oil and organic butter, 1T soy sauce or tamari, and arrowroot.
Standard sized colander
Triple thickness of cheesecloth (or single thickness of T-shirt) large enough to line the colander
Perfect bowl, perfect weight, perfect baking dish (see recipe for details)
The night before:
Squeeze three of the lumps of tofu into small bits with your hands. It should be the consistency of small curd cottage cheese. This is fun and a good job for children.
Wet the cheesecloth, wring it out, and line the colander with it get rid of all the wrinkles. Dump in the crumbled tofu and gently press it into the sides and bottom of the colander. The center should be hollow, and the walls of your tofu bowl should be about an inch thick. Have the tofu come up almost, but not all the way, to the top lip of the colander.
Dig through your cupboard and find a bowl that will fit perfectly in the hollow of your tofu bowl. Gently press it in there. It will make an unladylike sound. Rummage around the house and find something heavy (rock? can of cling peaches? bust of Mozart?) that will press the perfect bowl onto the tofu and squeeze the juice out of it. This does not need to be aggressive. Tuck the corners of the cheesecloth over the top of the tofu so the edges don't dry out.
Place the colander/cheesecloth/tofu bowl/perfect bowl/weight construction on a plate and put it in the fridge overnight.
The day of:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare your stuffing. Remove the weight and bowl from the turkey and discard the pressed-out juice. Fill the cavity with stuffing. Crumble up the fourth lump of tofu and cover the stuffing with it. Press it down good and flat.
Find a baking dish that is at least as big around as the top of the colander. It needs to be something that can go from oven to table because YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MOVE THE TURKEY LATER. A large casserole dish will probably do it, like a lasagna pan. Cookie sheet too though not as pretty.
Place your baking dish over the top of the colander, hold them together tightly, invoke the spirit of Martha Stewart, and invert the colander so the turkey drops ever so gently onto the baking dish. Remove the colander and peel off the cheesecloth. The turkey should look like a half a big white basketball. Applause is appropriate at this point.
Mix together the soy sauce, olive oil, and sesame oil and baste the turkey with a brush. (Now it's a big golden brown basketball!) Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then baste and reduce heat to 350 for an hour, basting about every 20 minutes. Make the gravy while the turkey is baking.
Easy Mushroom Gravy
In a large skillet, sauté the onion and mushrooms in the olive oil and butter till onions are translucent. Add the wine, broth, and soy sauce and simmer till mushrooms look cooked, about 15 minutes. To thicken, add arrowroot 1/2 teaspoon at a time while stirring repeat as needed until it's thick enough to suit you. When baking time is up, remove turkey from the oven, garnish artfully, and serve with the gravy. You can cut it into wedges or slabs.