Touting the benefits of turkey as a year-round dish comes easily to Jeff Paige, Executive Chef/Owner of Cotton Restaurant, because he truly wants diners to appreciate the versatility of the meat beyond Thanksgiving. In 2003, he was tapped by the National Turkey Federation to help expand the usage of turkey throughout the foodservice industry.
As part of that effort, Paige created an Almond-Encrusted Turkey Schnitzel, with sharp cheddar gratinée and bourbon applesauce. More than 12 years later, the dish has become synonymous with Cotton Restaurant, which features a turkey schnitzel on each dinner menu.
Paige modifies the recipe four times a year, creating tweaks on the almond-encrusted original, like a Turkey Milanese, an Italian-style lightly breaded and pan-fried turkey cutlet with a salad of baby arugula, grape tomatoes, red onions and lemon vinaigrette, finished with shaved Italian hard cheeses. A summertime version of the schnitzel is macadamia-encrusted, paired with a tropical pineapple fruit salsa. Paige’s preferred cut is the boneless breast chop/cutlet. “It’s higher in protein and lower in calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium than chicken breast, pork, beef, lamb or veal,” he says. “Plus, it’s just so versatile.”
He attributes turkey’s warm reception at Cotton to a combination of healthy eating options and an interest in unique preparations and ingredients, but in familiar formats. “The Turkey Schnitzel is classic comfort food,” he says. “After being on the dinner menu for so many years, there’s certainly no sign of interest waning.”