Friday, February 11, 2011

Thoughts on cooking

We got a good bit of 97% lean ground turkey at Aldi with the intention of making several of the recipes from the book and a few other of our own. (Lucy makes a mean stuffed pepper)

The taco salad we had a few days ago was excellent. (A few words on that in a bit)

But last night we made the turkey chili. Before I proceed a bit of history is needed. I was raised in my mothers kitchen and my mother couldn't follow any recipe without doing what we call "doctoring up." Maybe it's genetic, but I can't help myself. Everything needs just a little something extra. A dash of this, a pinch of that. Maybe an additional main ingredient or a change in the cooking process. It's almost required for me to sleep well at night. Lucy gets irritated with me since I can never just stick to the recipe and I never time anything when cooking. The same thing happened with the chili. Lucy followed the recipe and I felt like it needed a little "doctoring" up. Chili by definition contains chili peppers. So we added some. Here's the thing. The recipes in the book are good, but I have to doctor them. I can't help it.

With the Taco Salad, here's my change.

Saute the turkey in a non-stick pan with a tsp of oil. We used the Smart Balance oil. But make sure to cook all the moisture out and start to get some "crust" on the meat. Then stir in chopped onions, and once again cook out the moisture. Then add in the pack of taco seasoning. It's seems counter intuitive to cook such a lean mean to such a dry point. We all know how dry lean ground turkey can get. But following this process will yield very flavorful meat as it forms the crust. The onions will then add that moisture back in. Cooking out most of the onion moisture is you call. It just depends on how much of that moisture you want transferred to your salad. I for one hate a soggy salad.

The Chili.
Peppers, that's the key. Fresh or dried, hot or mild. This is what I'd do. Get a bag of dried or fresh mild chilies, something like an Ancho. Just look for large red ones. Usually the smaller the chili, the hotter the taste. Remove the seeds. If they are dried soak them several hours. Then blend them into a soup in the processor. Just add water to get them flowing. Dried ones you'll need to strain through a fine mesh to get out the peeling. Then add to your cockpot in place of water or stock. We then let it cook about 8 hours. The turkey that was used we followed the same process as with the taco salad. The only difference is after the onions cooked down we added mushrooms. Add a spoon full of fat free sour cream and a sprinkle of fat free cheese and you're in business. The chili was excellent.

Little tweaks like this can really punch up the flavor with no additional calories, fats, carbs or sugars.
So experiment.

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