Southwest Turkey Burgers

The trick to making a delicious turkey burger is to season it well. Ground turkey is lower in fat than beef, which also means it doesn’t have enough flavor to stand on its own. This recipe adds chili powder and cumin to give the burger a Southwestern kick. The end result was so good!

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Crushed tortilla chips replace breadcrumbs as a binder, making this recipe gluten free. Instead of using a gluten free bun, I wrapped the burgers in lettuce and topped them with grilled onions, salsa and guacamole. I skipped the corn because I served this with my black bean and corn salad on the side.

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This meal completely satisfied my craving for Tex-Mex, and was much healthier than the beef alternative. Enjoy!

Southwest Turkey Burgers with Corn Salsa

Bon Appétit

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Not-Quite-Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie, a dish often associated with Ireland, was designed as a way to make the most of leftovers. It transforms already prepared meat and potatoes into a new meal that will feed the whole family. It’s an ideal dinner idea if you happen to have mashed potatoes you would like to use up, but it’s simple enough to make every layer from scratch.

three layers of deliciousness

three layers of deliciousness

Before I share my recipe, I want to be clear that I know this is not shepherd’s pie. True shepherd’s pie is made with lamb. If you use beef, you’re making cottage pie. I use ground turkey and try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a likable name for this recipe. Regardless, the versatility of this method is one of my favorite things about it. You can make a vegetarian version or Mediterranean version and you’ll still get to enjoy a hearty meal that makes enough to feed a crowd.

With a recipe as traditional as shepherd’s pie, I like to start by consulting my Fanny Farmer Cookbook. I am not kidding when I tell you that she says to take three cups of cooked lamb and run it through your meat grinder with herbs. Although I know that’s probably an effective method, I buy my raw meat ground and go from there. Lamb pairs nicely with rosemary, but in my opinion poultry is best with sage.

Layer one: Meat and Gravy

Layer one: Meat and Gravy

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Preheat your oven to 375 F. Put a big pot of salted water on the stove and peel and quarter four yellow potatoes—any kind will do, but Yukon Gold is great because they don’t get to starchy. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook until tender. Drain well. I took 1-2 TBSP of some leftover Three Herb Butter and sautéed chopped onion (from one large yellow onion), 2 large cloves of minced garlic, and 1 ½ lbs of ground turkey (mix of dark and white meat) in a large skillet over medium heat. I added about 1 tsp of dried sage and salt and pepper to taste. Regular butter will work well in the recipe, and you can alter the amount of herbs based on your personal preference. Once the meat is browned and the onions are translucent, transfer the meat to a 9 X 13” glass casserole dish.

In the same skillet, melt 4 TBSP butter and stir in 2 TBSP flour. Cook over medium heat for at least 5 minutes to mellow out the raw flour taste. Slowly add 1/3 cup of chicken broth while stirring. Stir and cook until the gravy thickens, then add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the gravy evenly over the layer of meat. Some day I will use this incredible Chanterelle Mushroom Gravy in this recipe, but this time simple won out over gourmet.

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The vegetable layer is optional, believe it or not. I peeled and sliced 4 medium carrots and steamed them with one small bag of frozen peas until they were still firm, but slightly cooked. Add that layer over the layer of meat.

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Finally, place the potatoes back into the pot and add ¼ cup of butter. Place over low heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat and use a hand masher until the potatoes are soft and the butter is incorporated. At this point, you can add milk or broth until you have a consistency you like. I had crème fraiche to use up, so I added about ¼ cup to the potato mixture. I like thick mashed potatoes in this recipe because they are going back in the oven and I want them to hold up. Add salt and pepper to taste, then spread an even layer on top of the vegetables. Make a cross-hatched pattern with your fork if you like, then top with pepper and bake for 35-40 minutes, until bubbling and slightly browned.

after the oven

after the oven

That’s it! This dish serves 8-10 and keeps well for up to a week. If you have a name suggestion, I would love to hear it in the comments.

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Thanksgiving Wrap Up

I’m proud to say it was a wonderful holiday. My parents are boarding their plane back to California and I’m nestled on my couch in pajamas, sipping Lemon Ginger tea with Tulip at my feet. I miss them a little. A good visit with family always makes me feel homesick after we say goodbye. I’m lucky to feel that way.

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The days of preparation paid off. I think this is the first year I didn’t have to run back to the store to get a missing ingredient. The timeline for the day also proved useful. It functioned more like a checklist with a sense of how long each dish would take to prepare than an actual schedule, which was fine. Dinner was served at 4pm on the nose, with everyone pitching in the last half-hour to get us to the table as my energy started to wane.

he swears the glasses protect his eyes from onions

he swears the glasses protect his eyes from onions

That said it was still a ton of work! Thank goodness my mom was willing to help out so much in the kitchen. The biggest “hits” this year were the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. This was my first year brining a turkey and I will definitely do it again. The recipe I liked called for a pretty complicated brine, but for the sake of my sanity I went with this basic one, adding a couple of bay leaves and a teaspoon of black peppercorns for some flavor. Even with a ten-pound turkey I needed to add several cups of water to cover the bird, but the brine still worked its magic!

brine

brine

three herb butter

three herb butter

In addition to brining, I put a thin coat of Three Herb Butter underneath the skin of the turkey to keep the breast moist. I followed our old Silver Palate trick and rubbed the outside of the turkey with lemon juice followed by olive oil, salt, and pepper. After salting and peppering the cavity, half a squeezed lemon, fresh thyme, parsley and sage went in to add some flavor. My dad trussed the turkey and we put in on a roasting rack in the oven at 325 degrees. I melted some of the remaining herb butter for basting, which was helpful because the turkey didn’t release much juice and the butter was excellent for browning. I basted the turkey every half an hour, switching to homemade chicken broth as my liquid after the first hour. I have no idea why, but the turkey was done an hour early—tender and full of the herb-butter flavor all the way through. It got to rest, loosely tented under foil, until we were ready to carve.

My mom found the recipe for this unforgettable Chanterelle Mushroom Gravy. I was nervous about the amount of flour called for, but I used cornstarch to make it gluten free and it turned out perfectly. The flavor of chanterelles was amazing! It would be perfect for turning leftovers into a turkey potpie. I just plan on pouring it over the Bread Stuffing with Fresh Herbs to keep the leftovers moist.

chanterelles

chanterelles

stuffing

stuffing

The Yukon Gold and Fennel Puree with Rosemary Butter was a hands-down favorite. I’m grateful I didn’t think to halve the recipe because I know we’ll be enjoying the leftovers all weekend long. I roasted the fennel and onion to make the puree two days early, which I highly recommend. You can even make the whole recipe a full day in advance.

mashed potatoes

mashed potatoes

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We had enough time to take a light lunch break and enjoy the cheese board I put together. My mom and I took Tulip for a walk in the crisp winter weather before diving into the afternoon cooking. It was such a pleasure to be in the kitchen together. This was the first time in over thirty years my parents didn’t host Thanksgiving at their house. We were honored to have them here. Thank you, Mom, for the beautiful centerpiece and help in the kitchen. Thanks to Dad for trussing and carving and kicking my butt in cribbage. And thank you to Ben for inviting my parents to share Thanksgiving at our table. I have so much gratitude for you all.

turkey!

turkey!

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DSCN1520It was a feast!

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Mushroom Herb Turkey Meatloaf

It may seem ridiculous, but this is practically my signature dish. It’s the meal that always garners praise and seconds, even though at its heart it’s just a meatloaf. That said, what could be more satisfying?

Meatloaf is a great way to use gluten free bread because it often crumbles nicely. My version is a healthy take on a 1997 Gourmet recipe for Mushroom-Herb Meat Loaf Eich. Instead of using beef, veal, and bacon (which I’m sure is delicious) I use a pound of ground turkey and ¾ to 1 pound of mushrooms. I always purchase at least ¼ lb of dark meat to add some flavor.

pan full of mushrooms, peppers, onions, and garlic

pan full of mushrooms, peppers, onions, and garlic

bowl full of ingredients

bowl full of ingredients

I also coat the meatloaf in habañero ketchup before baking instead of bacon. This adds another dimension of flavor without the heaviness of bacon grease. If you follow my lead, you may want to leave out the cayenne in the original recipe, unless you really love spice. I use Melinda’s Habanero Ketchup, which is available at New Seasons (a local chain) and also at World Market.  If you substitute olive oil for the butter this recipe is also dairy free, and you honestly won’t notice the difference. I cook the meatloaf for the shortest recommended time—50 minutes. Even if it cooks a little longer than it needs to the juices from the peppers, onions, and ketchup should keep it moist.

pre-roasted meat loaf

pre-roasted meat loaf

This is perfect with a side of mashed potatoes, but this time I went a little lighter and roasted some sweet potatoes. I slipped them in the oven before I prepped the ingredients for the meatloaf, and by the time the meat was ready for the oven the sweet potatoes were fully roasted.

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So satisfying! If you have a version of meat loaf that you keep coming back to, please share it in the comments!

Mushroom-Herb Meat Loaf Eich via Epicurious

Gourmet             September 1997