Easter’s coming up this week, and many will say it’ll most likely be one of the quietest – COVID-19 has taken care of that. Still, many families will be sitting down to share a good meal and giving thanks for all the measures in place to expedite this virus from our lives.

Food shopping has been challenging at best, but one food that promises to keep the meals coming is turkey! Especially for those looking for a change from traditional dishes like lamb or ham. Turkey’s delicious, nutritious, it also can be reinvented in a variety of dishes for the coming days.

Award-winning celebrity chef Christine Cushing – who recently won the 2020 Taste Award for ‘best chef’ in a series for her Confucius Was a Foodie food series on PBS – says turkey also stretches every dollar and helps reduce food waste. Here, chef Cushing offers her personal kitchen tips and tricks, particularly crucial during these trying times:

Award-winning celebrity chef Christine Cushing offers ideas for upcoming Easter meals.

1) SHOP YOUR FRIDGE: Before you do a big shopping run, have a look inside your fridge. This will give you a thorough inventory of what you have so you don’t duplicate buying and produce any waste. This will also help you save money. As a rule, once a week try pulling all your produce and perishables like dairy, meat, eggs etc. out of the fridge and using them immediately, especially produce that looks to be spoiling. Use this opportunity to make a soup, stew, stir fry etc.

2) GO FOR A WHOLE TURKEY AND EAT FOR DAYS: A whole turkey is a staple in Zero Waste cooking because you can make at least 3 additional meals out of the leftovers and use virtually every part of the turkey. Don’t forget to use the bones to make a delicious bone broth or stock you can use now or freeze.

3) REHYDRATE THOSE WILTED VEGGIES: Take a closer look at produce that may look wilted or spoiled on the outside. Peeling away the wilted or slimy outer leaves of green onions, leeks and herbs and washing thoroughly can save them from an immediate toss in the organic bin. Wilted veggies like carrots and celery can also be rejuvenated by immersing in ice cold water to be rehydrate to be used in you in favourite recipe.

4) BATCH COOKING: Batch cooking on weekends and freezing is a great way to make the most of your weekly grocery trips with the least amount of waste. Get the whole family involved; yes, I’m talking old school.

5) FIRST IN FIRST OUT: Avoid the usual dash in from the grocery store where you just jam everything into the fridge with no idea what products should be used first. Instead, use the FIFO (First In, First Out) technique used in professional kitchens to organize your fridge when you return home with groceries so that older products are brought forward.

Chef Christine Cushing recently worked with Thinkturkey.ca for the following recipes:

Dry Brined Whole Turkey with French Herbs and White Wine

Dry brining – essentially salting – your turkey is the ideal technique to maximize flavour and juiciness in your whole bird while minimizing the fuss. Make sure to allow at least 24 hours for the bird to brine in a roasting pan uncovered in the fridge. Do not rinse the turkey before roasting or the skin will not crisp during roasting. Use leftovers in a variety of dishes for the rest of the week – from soups to stir-fries!

  • 1 12-14 lb. (5.5-7 kg) young turkey
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. (37 mL) kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. (1 mL) freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 sprigs each fresh thyme and tarragon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) room temperature butter
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 whole lemon cut into 8ths
  • 4 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) sweet paprika
  • 1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine
  • extra water if pan is dry
  • (Carrots, onions, celery and giblets under turkey, optional)


  • 2 cups (500 mL) turkey broth
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) corn starch
  • sprigs of herbs, for garnish, optional

24 hours prior to roasting, remove little bag of giblets and turkey neck from turkey cavity. For adding additional flavour to pan drippings, roast neck, giblets and vegetables in pan under turkey. Ensure that bottom shelf of your fridge fits your turkey and is available overnight.

Combine soft butter with 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) of freshly chopped herbs and some pepper. Loosen skin under breast meat carefully with hands, at neck end of turkey. Place soft butter under skin on both sides of breast meat and press skin down to distribute butter evenly.

Combine kosher salt and ground pepper together and blend. With bird in a roasting pan, preferably on a rack, sprinkle 2 tsp. (10 mL) of mixture inside of turkey cavity. Sprinkle another 2 teaspoons over legs and wings. Lastly, sprinkle remainder of salt
mixture evenly over breast area with a light dusting. Transfer to fridge and let brine uncovered for 24 – 28 hours. The following day, preheat oven to 325F (160mL). Remove turkey from fridge. DO NOT rinse or skin will not crisp up. Stuff cavity with several sprigs of fresh herbs, 1 lemon cut into eighths and 2 cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil to allow herbs to stick. Combine remaining chopped herbs and grated lemon zest together and sprinkle over entire surface of turkey. Sprinkle with paprika. Pour white wine around turkey and add 2 other garlic cloves and roast, breast side up until thermometer inserted
into thickest part of thigh reads 170F, about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. At midway mark if pan is dry add a cup of water to prevent scorching. Note that time can vary. Remove and let rest for 40 minutes to 1 hour before carving.

Pan gravy

Remove turkey onto a cutting board and let rest. While turkey is resting, add more water to pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat if your roaster can be heated on stove top. Drain out pan drippings into a fat separator and discard most of fat.
Pour drippings, additional turkey broth – mixed with corn starch to dissolve – over medium heat in a saucepan on stovetop. Whisk mixture over medium high heat until just glossy and slightly reduced, about 8-10 minutes. Pour into a serving or coffee thermos, if desired to keep warm. Slice turkey and serve with gravy.

Serves 12-14.

Moroccan Turkey Phyllo Pie

Dark roasted turkey meat is ideal for this spicy, aromatic Moroccan savoury pie.

  • 2 Tbsp. and 1/3 cup (30-75 mL) olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small Thai chili or chili flakes, to taste
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) Ras El Hanout Moroccan spice blend
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) grated lemon zest
  • meat from 1 roasted turkey leg chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 pitted prunes or any other dried fruit chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) green olives, diced
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) turkey stock
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 Tbsp. (7.5 mL) icing sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) whole toasted almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 8 sheets phyllo pastry
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) chopped fresh coriander

Preheat oven to 375F (180C). In a large skillet heat 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili, spice blend, lemon zest and turkey meat and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in prunes, olives, stock, lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid and simmer for 5 more minutes, or until liquid has almost evaporated. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, pulse icing sugar, cinnamon and almonds in food processor until coarsely chopped.

Brush a 10-inch pie dish with some olive oil. On a work surface, arrange a sheet of phyllo (keep remaining phyllo under damp tea towel). Brush phyllo with olive oil and lay in middle of pie dish allowing excess phyllo to hang over edge. Repeat with 4 more sheets of phyllo.

Stir beaten egg and coriander into turkey mixture and spoon into prepared pie dish. Fold phyllo pieces that are hanging over edge of pie dish, one at a time into middle of pie, sprinkling some of the almond mixture between each layer. Brush 1 piece of phyllo with olive oil and place on top of pie, tucking in any overhang. Repeat with remaining phyllo and almond mixture. (Do these one by one, not stacked together, to achieve a light, blossomy top.) Bake for 20 minutes until top is browned and crisp. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Serves 6.

Korean-Style Turkey Fried Rice

Roasted turkey meat adds great body, nutrition and flavour to this zesty Korean-style rice. Gochujang is a fermented chili soy paste available in Asian or Korean specialty stores.

  • 3 Tbsp. (45 mL) vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) grated fresh ginger
  • any bruised or wilted veggies from your fridge such as 2 small carrots, grated, 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cups (500 mL) cooked cold long grain rice, leftover is best
  • leftover roast turkey meat, diced into 1-inch pieces approx. 1 1/2 cups (375 mL)
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) Tamari soy sauce (15 ml)
  • 2 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. Gochujang (10-15 mL) Korean chile paste
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) frozen peas, boiled
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) toasted sesame seeds

Heat 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) of oil in a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Once hot, add whisked eggs and cook until egg is set, about 2 minutes, turning to finish cooking. Remove from wok and set aside.

Wipe wok clean and return to high heat with remaining oil. Once shimmering, add vegetables and stir fry for 2 minutes, until starting to soften. Quickly add Tamari soy sauce, Gochujang, turkey and cooked rice, breaking up clumps. Continue to stir fry until rice is well-coated in sauce and very hot, about 2 minutes. Add sesame oil, cooked green peas and cooked eggs and toss for another minute on the heat. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and more green onions, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

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