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Turkey Poulette

Sliced turkey with a thick, pale, warm sauce, cheese and bacon–this is an old luncheon favorite that is now nearly extinct. And perhaps it should be. However, people who remember it fondly as a standard at the Roosevelt Hotel might not think so–even if it’s been forty years since the last time they tried it. It’s just one of those dishes. In modern times, the Peppermill in Metairie has been about the only restaurant even attempting to keep turkey poulette alive.

The poulette sauce that holds all the pieces together is a classic French sauce, most commonly used for chicken. (Hence the name.) But it’s not much used even in France anymore. Most references to it tell you to see “allemande sauce,” which is similar but with a bit of egg to make it even thicker. (“Allemande” credits the Germans for the stuff.)

  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 1 cup sliced fresh white mushrooms
  • 1 oz. dry sherry
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 onion rolls
  • 8 large slices roast turkey breast, about 1/8 inch thick
  • 8 slices bacon. fried crisp
  • 1/4 cup green onions, snipped thin

Preheat the broiler to 450 degrees.

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour to make a blond roux. When the roux just begins to color, lower the heat to the lowest setting and add the warm milk. Whisk until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan.

2. Add the mushrooms, sherry, white pepper, and salt. Stir until the sherry disappears. Simmer, stirring every now and then, until the mushrooms are soft. Remove the sauce from the heat.

3. Slice the onion rolls from top to bottom to make slices about a half-inch thick. Toast them until medium brown. Divide the slices on four plates.

4. Top the onion roll toasts with two slices per plate of the turkey. Divide the sauce over the turkey. Top each plate with two slices of bacon and a fourth of the grated Cheddar.

5. Put the plates under the broiler until the cheese melts and the sauce bubbles. Remove the hot plates to liner plates. Garnish the turkey poulettes with green onions and serve.

Serves four.

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