Friday, October 19, 2007

The Many Moods of Turkey

For some of us eating a few slices of turkey at Thanksgiving is enough turkey for the whole year, thank you very much. For others turkey is a treasured treat as often as possible. I fall into the latter category. This has been a good week because I had turkey apple sausages on Wednesday

and an open-faced hot turkey sandwich with stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy (call in the carb police!) last night.

If I had roasted a turkey myself for that meal I might be eating a grilled turkey sandwich for lunch tomorrow, turkey a' la king with rice for dinner, and some turkey rice soup by Monday. To change the flavors a bit, I could make spaghetti sauce with true Italian flavors with ground turkey, or make teriyaki meatballs for an Asian dinner, also with ground turkey. There is also the joy of a turkey pastrami sandwich on rye....I could go on and on.

One of the reasons that I can have turkey so often is that a local family, the Benedettis, grow turkeys commercially locally and have a Willie Bird's retail store about a 10 minute drive away. There they sell fresh turkey products from a refrigerated case, to order, but there are also packs of frozen turkey products, usually at a lower price than a similar item can be found in the grocery stores. They also make great sandwiches to go.

Those turkey apple sausages came from the freezer case. We are trying to empty the freezer and fridge in preparation for tenting the house for termites (termites just LOVE Sonoma County), so these sausages joined some frozen green beans, some apples off the tree, and some red potatoes from the pantry for a warm and cozy dinner on a wet and gray evening.

The wonderful turkey dinner with all those carbs can be found, year 'round, at Willie Bird's Restaurant in Santa Rosa. It is almost a throwback to the 50's or 60's restaurant with booths, those little wrapped butter pats brought with the bread basket, and they even have liver on the menu for dinner...and it's very nicely cooked liver, the way you wish Mom used to make it.

Since it is that time of year, you can also pre-order a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, although the lines to pick up the bird can be a dozen or so people sometimes. Still, a fresh turkey is superior to my taste to a frozen turkey, and it supports local agriculture.

Turkey Apple Sausages with Potatoes and Apples
This is a classic flavor combination

1 pound sausage in casings - turkey apple is a favorite - Willie Bird's if you can get it
1 tablespoon grapeseed or safflower oil
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed, halved, and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed or safflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
4 medium apples, halved, cored, and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil until hot and saute' the sausages, turning to brown all sides. Remove sausages to a microwave safe plate and keep covered.

Meanwhile put the potatoe slices in a medium saucepan and add water to barely cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced. Drain the potatoes, then add them to the cast iron skillet once the sausages are removed. Add the additional oil and saute' the potatoes, turning over a few times with a spatula to allow more sides to brown. When browned to desired amount, season with salt and pepper to taste, keep warm, covered.

While potatoes are boiling and sausages are cooking, place the butter in a small cast iron skillet, put the skillet over low heat until the butter melts. Add the apple slices and turn and stir them until the slices have been slicked with the butter. Add the water and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon, then stir the apple slices again the distribute the spice over all the slices. Raise the heat to medium-high and saute' the apples for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and a bit carmelized. Add a little more water if needed to keep them from burning.

Take the microwave plate of sausages and cover, leaving a vent for steam to escape. Microwave on 1/2 power, a minute at a time, until cooked through but still tender. If you poke the sausage, it will be resistant when it is done.

Place the sausages, potatoes and apples on a serving platter and serve warm, at once. This meal is good with steamed green beans or a green salad with a light dressing.

Willie Bird's Restaurant
1150 Santa Rosa Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 542-0861

If you phone the Restaurant, they can give you information for the retail store.


  1. Wow, you really do love your turkey. It's really not a big thing here in Australia. It's usually eaten on sandwiches and maybe at Christmas for some people. Personally, I've never had a roast turkey in my life. Maybe I will try cooking one one day.

  2. I like turkey year round, but shocking as it may seem, my picky husband doesn't even really like turkey at Thanksgiving(and we have two of them).
    I love turkey and apple sausage well as chicken and apple sausage too.

  3. I live in hope that turkey sausages might make it to the UK eventually =) Lovely dish.

  4. And turkey is great to eat to aid sleep! It is naturally high in l tryptophan! See the chart at Wikipedia!

  5. KJ, Do try roasting a turkey one day. Add some herby stuffing on the inside and you'll have a number of meals and some great sandwiches, too.

    Peabody, My Sweetie is not all that fond of turkey, either, but he likes the turkey sausages.

    Kelly-Jane, Hard to believe that the UK doesn't have turkey sausages, but chicken apple are good too.

    Anna, Yeah, that's why we always go for a walk after dinner on's either that or nap.

  6. We love turkey but hardly ever have it - I don't know why. The sandwich sounds excellent and turkey sausages, yes please. Though like Kelly-Jane never seen them in the UK.