Sunday, January 2, 2011

Turkey Mess

This is a recipe that I've used for over 18 years now.  The real title should be Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey but hubby dubbed it Turkey Mess and the name stuck. I think I got the original recipe from the Nautilus Diet Cookbook but of course I've tinkered with it beyond recognition of the original.  

You can use all white or all dark meat.  The dark meat has a bit more fat so it is more flavorful.  In either case it is still leaner than using ground beef which would also work in this recipe.  I tend to use a 93% white/7% dark mix because that is what my local market sells prepackaged.  If I'm in Whole Foods I always use all dark.  If the meat has been frozen, I find that the turkey is much tougher and looses much of its water content during cooking, which has to be drained off.  It tastes much better if the meat is fresh.  As for the herbs, onions and mushrooms I've used fresh, dried and/or frozen all of which work.  Fresh or frozen taste best.  Dried works in a pinch. You can always buy fresh presliced which is a huge time/energy saver and tastes great.  If you can find Dorot frozen garlic and herbs they are wonderful.  I know Trader Joes usually has them but I've also found them in various markets.  They make a great pantry item so you don't have to chop fresh stuff but still have the great taste.  One warning though, the garlic is atomic.  You only need one cube because it is really strong.

Serves 3-4

1lb ground turkey
1/4-1/2c diced onion
1-2c sliced mushrooms (regular or baby bellas also known as criminis)
1-3 bulbs garlic (or 1 frozen cube)
1-2T good olive oil
1 jar Newman's Marinara Sauce
1/2t oregano
1/4t basil
1/4t thyme
1 large bay leaf
1t parsley
1c sweet peas (optional)

  1. Heat large non stick frying pan with olive oil until the oil shimmers
  2. Press garlic and add to pan along with onion.  Saute until onion is translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms and saute until just starting to brown.  Move to outside edge of pan.
  4. Add turkey meat to center of pan and break up with spoon as it is browning.  If meat was frozen you will have to drain off some of the liquid prior to proceeding with the next step.
  5. When meat is still slightly pink add entire jar of sauce.  Fill jar 1/3 up with water swish to dissolve remaining in jar and then add to turkey mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Add peas if using.  Let mixture some to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
  6. Add all the herbs and spices.
  7. Let simmer while pasta is cooking for about 5 minutes or so.  Use a spatter screen to keep stove top clean.  Save those spoons!
  8. Serve hot with favorite pasta.  My preference is Rigatoni or Ziti It is also good on top of brown rice.  Don't forget to take out the bay leaf prior to serving.  Our favorite sides are baby carrots or green beans and green salad.
  9. The leftovers taste even better the next day.  They can also be frozen for later.

I can vouch for this pan.  It is worth the money since it is my workhorse in the kitchen.  I discovered spatter screens a few years back and LOVE them.  It allows the sauce to simmer and reduce without the cooktop getting caked in tomato spatter.

I guess the cookbook is out of print but available used.  It is worth purchasing one.  It has lots of very tasty recipes in it and I used it to learn low fat cooking.  That said my food philosophy has changed since then and I believe that there is such a thing as good fats and bad fats so I use olive oil in my cooking now and won't touch margarine with a ten foot pole.  The cookbook is also NOT GF so if you get a copy you will need to make substitutions if you are Celiac or not eating wheat.  The book itself is interesting since it is a combination workout book, recipe book and has weekly menus with the calorie counts already done for you.  It was written by the guy that has a PhD in PE and 2 years of post doc in Nutrition and was the Director of Research for Nautilus Sports.  He knows bodies and how they work.  This is the ONLY formal diet I have ever followed and I did very well on it 17 years ago.  I stopped following it when I got pregnant but the cooking style stuck with me and I still use several of the recipes in it.

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