Lead On, Oh Turkey Eternal


by Celia Hayes

So, Thanksgiving – what about it all just inspires a hostess or hostesses to just pile on the mass quantities of food? Is it the inspiration of the turkey, which just makes everyone suddenly prone to super-size quantities of everything else? Vats of stuffing, the biggest pot in the kitchen full of mashed potatoes and a small ocean of gravy – it's all there, and a magnificent sight it is, the buffet table fairly groaning with the weight of it all – but in the whole of my life I have only once not had to deal with the resulting acre and a half of leftovers after hosting or organizing a Thanksgiving dinner. That one time was the year that I was assigned to Yongson Army Infantry Garrison Korea, as part of the staff at AFKN, and the residents of the Air Force woman's barracks decided to organize a proper Thanksgiving feast.

This involved a monster turkey, a behemoth of 25 pounds, which necessitated me getting up well before 4 AM in order to have the whole thing roasted to a turn in time for the mid-afternoon feast ... which also included ham and the usual side dishes. This feast was descended upon by just about all of the Air Force enlisted personnel attached to Yongson, with the pleasing result that all that remained by 5 PM was a couple of gallon zip-lock Baggies full of sliced turkey and ham in the barracks kitchen refrigerator.

I had designs on that sliced turkey – as I was going to fix some pot-pies the next day (as in the linked article from a previous Thanksgiving) – but that evening, many of the barracks residents went to celebrate with spirituous libations poured generously in the finest drinking establishments in Itaewan. Returning with the munchies, they ate every scrap of leftovers. My plans for feeding the multitude the next day were balked. I did, however, have a small baggie of leftover turkey in my own room refrigerator ... and I made turkey and mushroom crepes for myself and some friends the next day, using this recipe – it's adapted from Barbara Swain's Cookery for 1 or 2 – Golden Crepes/Main Dish Crepes

Crepes – Combine in a blender and let sit, refrigerated for several hours: 1 egg, ½ cup half-and-half, or 2 Tbsp cream and sufficient milk to make ½ cup, 1/8 teasp salt and 1/3 cup flour, fork-stirred before measuring. The resulting batter will be about the consistency of heavy cream.
To cook, heat up an 8-inch skillet with sloped sides, an omelet pan or crepe pan over medium heat, oil lightly with cooking oil or melted butter. Pour approximately one-quarter of the batter into the hot pan, tilting the pan to spread the batter thinly. Crepe is cooked when top appears dry and edges are lightly browned. Turn carefully with fingers, or with edge of a rubber spatula. Crepe should still be pliable. Set aside to keep warm, and cook remaining 4 crepes.

Filling: Prepare a cream sauce of 2 Tbsps. each butter and flour, combined with ½ cup chicken stock, and add 2 Tbsp. whipping cream, 1Tbsp. dry sherry or white wine, , and a dash of salt and pepper to taste.

In another bowl, combine ½ to ¾ cup chopped cooked turkey, and ¼ cup chopped sautéed mushrooms, celery and green onion, with just enough of the cream sauce to hold together. Divide among the crepes, roll up and place in a shallow baking pan or au gratin dish. Thin the remaining cream sauce with another ¼ cup of cream or milk, and pour over the crepes. Top with 2 Tbsps. Shredded Swiss or Parmesan cheese, bake at 350° for fifteen or twenty minutes. At the end of that period, broil until tops are lightly browned.