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Nontraditional Turkey

Three atypical turkey dishes to try this Thanksgiving


One day each year, turkey takes center stage on the dinner table--a whole glistening bird, beckoning dark- and light-meat lovers alike. But for the other 364, turkey plays a less glamorous role: It's sliced thin and layered onto deli sandwiches or ground up and grilled as a burger alternative.

Thankfully, three local eateries have found more innovative ways to use the bird.

Bittercreek Alehouse buys whole turkeys from A-Plus Ranch, a certified organic, free-range family farm in Richfield, Idaho.

"Basically, we had a need to do something with the drumsticks because we have a turkey breast sandwich on the menu and we buy the whole thing. So what do you do with the rest of it?" said Justin Thain, Bittercreek butcher and charcutier.

Bittercreek confits the turkey drumstick and neck meat in rendered pork fat, cooking it slowly until tender. The pub then scatters the confit atop its popular turkey poutine, a dish comprised of Idaho french fries, Ballard Family cheese curds and gravy.

"There was a time when we'd sell out of [the poutine] before the turkey breast, so then we'd have to wait and figure something else out," said Thain with a chuckle.

Momo Dumplings in Meridian serves ground turkey in its much-loved Nepalese dumplings. Stuffed with cilantro, cabbage, onions and spices, then steamed, the turkey momo are topped with an oven-roasted tomato chutney loaded with garlic, ginger, curry and cilantro.

While Momo's Bijaya Pudasaini said water buffalo and chicken are more popular momo fillings in her home country of Nepal, she likes to use turkey meat because it's leaner. Momo Dumplings also makes turkey meatballs for a dish called Meatballs Makhani.

And in a more tongue-in-cheek nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Saint Lawrence Gridiron food truck is frying up turkey croquetas this season.

"We call them Thanksgiving Dinner croquetas, and it's turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and then we have a cranberry relish dipping sauce," said owner Brian Garrett. "It's breaded with a pulverized panko breadcrumb."

Garrett said the croquetas are approximately two ounces, or around the size of your thumb.

"They're labor intensive to make because everything we do on the truck is from scratch. We roast off the turkey, we pull the turkey, we break it down so that it's small enough to go into the croquetas, we make the mashed potatoes from scratch, we make the stuffing from scratch, all that good stuff," said Garrett.

Though Garrett plans to keep the turkey croquetas on his menu past Thanksgiving, he said they're more of a novelty holiday item.

"I wouldn't make that the bread and butter of our business by any stretch of the imagination ... but people seem to like them," he said.