Turkey

Happy Holidays from A Capitol Contessa!

I am going to take next week off to relax and hang with family and friends but I wanted to wish all of you a great holiday season.  If you are looking for some festive recipes to celebrate with here are a couple of ideas.  See you in 2017!!!  XOXO, ACC

Lamb Ragu

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Individual Apple Crisps

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Happy Hour

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Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Turkey Pot Pie Turnover

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Mulled Cider

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A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel

I used to be able to travel back to Boston all the time for work.  It was great because I got to see family and friends and stay connected to my hometown in a way I can’t do now.  However, I would be lying if I said it didn’t also have to do with frequent stops to the Paramount, an awesome diner like place on Beacon Hill.  Open since 1937 this place is always packed but worth the wait.  My standard lunch order was the roasted turkey Rachel with sweet potato fries.  If you have never had a Rachel, its basically a Ruben sandwich with turkey and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut.  The mix of the tangy Russian dressing with the hearty turkey and the rye bread make me super happy.  Since I no longer get to fly up to Boston for one every couple of weeks I started craving it big time.  That’s when the idea to deconstruct the Rachel came to me – turn a lunch classic into a dinner staple.  In place of the rye bread I simply breaded turkey cutlets with breadcrumbs mixed with caraway seeds (the nutty yummy flavor you get in rye bread comes from those seeds).  Then the Russian dressing and coleslaw come together as a bed for the turkey cutlet.  To elevate this a bit I made my own Russian dressing and used bagged broccoli slaw which is much more crunchy and flavorful then the cabbage kind.  A bite of the cutlet with the slaw together and BAM you have a Rachel sandwich!  This dish will definitely get me through until the next time I can go to the Paramount.  Serve it for a totally outside the box Thanksgiving with some hoppy beer and I am sure your friends and family will flip.  Have a great holiday!!

A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel(printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  the best sandwich at the Paramount
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 12 ounce bag of broccoli slaw
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium size bowl combine the mayo, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Stir in the broccoli slaw making sure it is all combined.  This can be done several hours in advance, store in the fridge and just take it out 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off.  Set out three bowls for breading – one with the breadcrumbs and caraway seeds in it, one with the flour and one with the egg, beaten with a splash of water.

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Set out a plate or cookie sheet to place the breaded cutlets on.  First tip each cutlet in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the egg, making sure to coat the entire thing and then finish in the caraway breadcrumbs, pressing them on to make sure they stick.

Once all the cutlets are breaded heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Once they are hot add as many cutlets as comfortably fit in.

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Cook 3 minutes per side and remove, add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining cutlets.  Serve the cutlets on top of the slaw mixture.

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A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 12 ounce bag of broccoli slaw
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium size bowl combine the mayo, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the broccoli slaw making sure it is all combined.  This can be done several hours in advance, store in the fridge and just take it out 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off.  Set out three bowls for breading – one with the breadcrumbs and caraway seeds in it, one with the flour and one with the egg, beaten with a splash of water.

Set out a plate or cookie sheet to place the breaded cutlets on.  First tip each cutlet in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the egg, making sure to coat the entire thing and then finish in the caraway breadcrumbs, pressing them on to make sure they stick.  Once all the cutlets are breaded heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Once they are hot add as many cutlets as comfortably fit in.  Cook 3 minutes per side and remove, add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining cutlets.  Serve the cutlets on top of the slaw mixture.

Turkey Pot Pie Turnover

Would you rather have a cold leftover sandwich or a hot, toasty turnover oozing with turkey and gravy???  No contest right?  These turnovers are amazing and the perfect way to use up the leftover turkey from yesterday.  Pot pie is one of Patrick’s favorite things in the world but I took it to another level with this handheld version.  If you are totally sick of turkey make these up and freeze them so you can have them later in December when things start to get really hectic.  As you can see I served it with a light green salad but I am guessing you have leftover mashed potatoes and other sides so go ahead and use those up.  I was ok with just one for dinner (this would also make a great lunch item) but Patrick needed two so ramp up the recipe depending on how much you have leftover and if you are starting your diet right away or not.  We are headed to the Eastern Shore for some relaxing with friends but not before I start setting out the Christmas decorations.  Get ready for lots of holiday inspired posts!

Turkey Pot Pie Turnover (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  all that leftover turkey
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • splash of congac or white wine
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped turkey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight (I like Pepperidge Farms)
  • 1 egg

In a skillet melt the butter over medium heat and cook the carrot, onion and garlic for 5 to 7 minutes until they are softened.  Sprinkle over the flour and stir it in cooking until the raw flour is cooked, about a minute.  Add the splash (about a 1/4 of a cup) of cognac to the pan and stir.  Add in the stock, the turkey, mustard and tarragon.  Stir together and bring to a simmer, then cook for 10 minutes.  Add in the cream and peas and cook for another minute until thickened like gravy.

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Set turkey mixture aside (you can make the mix ahead here and store it in the fridge for a couple of days.  Let it come to room temp or nuke it a bit before filling the puff pastry.  You can also freeze the mixture for several months.)  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle your counter or board with some flour and unfold the puff pastry sheet.

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Using a rolling pin roll out the dough evenly so that it grows from 9 1/2 inches square to about 12 inches square.  Cut into 4 pieces.  Pour some tap water in a small bowl and put it near the pastry.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and lay the first square on it.  Mound a quarter of the mixture in the middle and use your fingertip to wet all 4 edges with the water in the bowl.  Fold one corner over to the other making a triangle and use a fork to press the edges together.  Repeat with the 3 other pieces.

At this point you can put the popovers in the fridge and store them for 24 hours.  If you want to freeze them do so on the baking sheet, allow them to harden and then store in freezer bag for several months.  Once you are ready to bake them, whisk the egg with a teaspoon of water in a small bowl and brush the tops of the popovers with the egg wash.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and use a sharp knife to create 2 or 3 slits in the top of each for steam to escape.  Bake for 30 minutes until golden.  Let them rest for 5 minutes before serving (they will be HOT).

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Turkey Pot Pie Turnovers

  • Servings: 4 turnovers
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • splash of congac or white wine
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped turkey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight (I like Pepperidge Farms)
  • 1 egg

In a skillet melt the butter over medium heat and cook the carrot, onion and garlic for 5 to 7 minutes until they are softened.  Sprinkle over the flour and stir it in cooking until the raw flour is cooked, about a minute.  Add the splash (about a 1/4 of a cup) of cognac to the pan and stir.  Add in the stock, the turkey, mustard and tarragon.  Stir together and bring to a simmer, then cook for 10 minutes.  Add in the cream and peas and cook for another minute until thickened like gravy.  Set turkey mixture aside (you can make the mix ahead here and store it in the fridge for a couple of days.  Let it come to room temp or nuke it a bit before filling the puff pastry.  You can also freeze the mixture for several months.)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle your counter or board with some flour and unfold the puff pastry sheet.  Using a rolling pin roll out the dough evenly so that it grows from 9 1/2 inches square to about 12 inches square.  Cut into 4 pieces.  Pour some tap water in a small bowl and put it near the pastry.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and lay the first square on it.  Mound a quarter of the mixture in the middle and use your fingertip to wet all 4 edges with the water in the bowl.  Fold one corner over to the other making a triangle and use a fork to press the edges together.  Repeat with the 3 other pieces.

At this point you can put the popovers in the fridge and store them for 24 hours.  If you want to freeze them do so on the baking sheet, allow them to harden and then store in freezer bag for several months.  Once you are ready to bake them, whisk the egg with a teaspoon of water in a small bowl and brush the tops of the popovers with the egg wash.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and use a sharp knife to create 2 or 3 slits in the top of each for steam to escape.  Bake for 30 minutes until golden.  Let them rest for 5 minutes before serving (they will be HOT).

Turkey and Pumpkin Chili

Ok stay with me here – I am not just adding pumpkin for pumpkin’s sake.  Actually there is a lot of pumpkin in Mexican food, including a delicious dip made out of pumpkin seeds called Sikil Pak (a great way to use up the pumpkin seeds you roast after carving).  Something about the earthiness of pumpkin goes really well with the heat and flavor of chili peppers.  For this chili I essentially used pumpkin puree instead of crushed tomatoes as the base, if you didn’t know it was pumpkin you probably wouldn’t guess but it really does make this chili special.  It also makes it perfect for Halloween as this chili can be made well in advance, even frozen, and then kept warm on the stove for a long time as you keep popping up and down to great trick o’ treaters.  Pair it with the Peanutty Oatmeal Cookies and my Halloween cocktail on Friday and you will have a great meal all set (candy served of course as the appetizer, amuse bouce, palate cleanser and dessert).

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Turkey and Pumpkin Chili (printable version at the end of the post)
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used orange to keep with the pumpkin theme but it doesn’t really matter what color)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 chipoltes in adobo, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find them)
  • 14.5 ounce can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 16 ounces canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie pumpkin)

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoons of the canola oil.  Once hot crumble the ground turkey into the pan, being careful not to crowd it.  Add salt and pepper but leave the turkey alone so it can brown.  After several minutes use your spoon to break up any larger pieces and stir it around, cook for another 5 minutes or so until cooked through.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the turkey to a bowl and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan.  Throw in the chopped onion, pepper, garlic and chipoltes.

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Cook for  minutes then add the coriander, chili powder, cumin and cayenne.  Cook for another minute, stirring so the spices warm through and coat the vegetables.  Add the tomatoes and use the juice from the tomatoes to deglaze the pan.  Return the turkey to the pan along with the beans, broth and pumpkin.

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Stir well until all combined and then bring to a simmer.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the flavors have melded.  Serve right away or let the chili cool and then freeze for up to 4 months.

Turkey and Pumpkin Chili

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used orange to keep with the pumpkin theme but it doesn’t really matter what color)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 chipoltes in adobo, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find them)
  • 14.5 ounce can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 16 ounces canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie pumpkin)

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoons of the canola oil.  Once hot crumble the ground turkey into the pan, being careful not to crowd it.  Add salt and pepper but leave the turkey alone so it can brown.  After several minutes use your spoon to break up any larger pieces and stir it around, cook for another 5 minutes or so until cooked through.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the turkey to a bowl and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan.  Throw in the chopped onion, pepper, garlic and chipoltes.  Cook for  minutes then add the coriander, chili powder, cumin and cayenne.  Cook for another minute, stirring so the spices warm through and coat the vegetables.  Add the tomatoes and use the juice from the tomatoes to deglaze the pan.  Return the turkey to the pan along with the beans, broth and pumpkin.  Stir well until all combined and then bring to a simmer.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the flavors have melded.  Serve right away or let the chili cool and then freeze for up to 4 months.

Turkey Tacos

Happy fiesta friday!  Even though it was a short week it sort of felt long so I hope everyone has a great weekend.  We are almost at a month of A Capitol Contessa and it’s really been a challenge but also so much fun.  Next week I will launch the menu calendar that will have weeknight menu suggestions along with a printable shopping list so stay tuned.  Also one more housekeeping note – our camera broke so the picture quality has been less than ideal of late.  Hope to get it fixed this weekend but if you were wondering why all the pics looked like cell phone shots it’s because they are!  Now on to the post…

Poor turkey – cousin to the oh so popular chicken, usually overcooked and dry, blamed for making you sleepy and relegated to the 3rd thursday in November and then forgotten about the rest of the year.  No longer!  Making turkey doesn’t have to be an all day affair partnered with heavy sides and family drama.  Don’t go for a whole bird – just buy a breast or cutlets and use them in place of chicken to spice things up.  Or totally throw tradition to the wind and try these terrific turkey tacos.  Here you use turkey legs as they can do a long braise, the flavor stands up to a punchy sauce and they are CHEAP.  I changed up the recipe a bit to impart more of a smoky, chili flavor and to cook down the sauce even more so it becomes thick and mole-like.  I also included chipoltes in adobo (which I should have had in the pantry blog post).  These are smoked jalapenos stored in a vinegary sauce that you can buy in a can at really any supermarket these days.  They pack some heat so you will probably never use the whole can at one time – that’s fine, just transfer to a plastic container and store in the fridge indefinitely.  I like to puree the whole chilis with the sauce and keep that on hand as well to stir into sauces or mayo for sandwiches.  For zero effort you can add a smoky, spicy, tangy flavor to practically anything.  Thanks to Pati’s Mexican Table for this excellent pic to you see what the chipoltes look like and a recipe to make your own (which I am now dying to try).  If you aren’t familiar with Pati Jinich she is an incredible Mexican cook from the D.C. area who does lots of fun local food events and has her own cooking show so please check out her website.

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I really like these tacos served simply with chopped onion and a squeeze of lime.  If you wanted to skip the taco route you could serve this as a main course with rice and beans or in a sandwich sort of like pulled pork.  It freezes really well so make the whole batch and freeze the left overs in smaller portions so you can have a slow braised meal any night of the week.

Turkey Tacos (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   Beer Braised Turkey Tacos by Food and Wine Magazine

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • one 2 to 2 1/2 pound package of turkey drumsticks, skin and fat removed
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 large oregano sprigs
  • 2 to 4 chipoltes in adobo depending on how much heat you like
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bottle of Mexican dark beer, such as Modelo Negro
  • 1 cup water

In a large dutch oven or pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle the turkey drumsticks with salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes until all the sides are brown.  Transfer them to a plate and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the garlic, onion, oregano springs, chipoltes and tomato paste.

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Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until the onion is softened and beginning to deglaze the plan. Add the canned tomatoes, ancho pieces and the cinnamon stick.  Now add the beer and water and scrape up any last brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Return the turkey to the pot and nestle them in among the liquid and veggies.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook for about an hour, turning the drumsticks once.  Take the drumsticks out – you can tell they are done when the meat easily falls off of the bone.  Here see the before and after:

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Dont be a hero – let the turkey cool off before shredding it, otherwise you will seriously hurt your fingers speaking from experience.  While the turkey cools turn the heat up on the sauce and discard the cinnamon stick and oregano sprigs.  Cook the sauce until thickened about 20 minutes or until it’s the consistency you want.  This is why I subbed the whole fresh tomato in the original to canned tomato plus tomato paste.  The way it was originally written I felt it was a little too weak but look at how rich the sauce turns out with the tomato and chili flavor amped up.  Shred the turkey and stir it back in with the sauce.

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Now you can eat it right away, keep it warm on the stove for a while, or store it in the fridge or freezer for later.

Turkey Tacos

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Print
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • one 2 to 2 1/2 pound package of turkey drumsticks, skin and fat removed
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 large oregano sprigs
  • 2 to 4 chipoltes in adobo depending on how much heat you want
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bottle of Mexican dark beer, such as Modelo Negro
  • 1 cup water

In a large dutch oven or pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle the turkey drumsticks with salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes until all the sides are brown.  Transfer them to a plate and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the garlic, onion, oregano springs, chipoltes and tomato paste.

Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until the onion is softened and beginning to deglaze the plan. Add the canned tomatoes, ancho pieces and the cinnamon stick.  Now add the beer and water and scrape up any last brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Return the turkey to the pot and nestle them in among the liquid and veggies.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook for about an hour, turning the drumsticks once.  Take the drumsticks out – you can tell they are done when the meat easily falls off of the bone.  While the turkey cools turn the heat up on the sauce and discard the cinnamon stick and oregano sprigs.  Cook the sauce until thickened about 20 minutes or until it’s the consistency you want.  Shred the turkey and stir it back in with the sauce.  Now you can eat it right away, keep it warm on the stove for a while, or store it in the fridge or freezer for later.

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