Tag Archives: turkey

Recipe: Easy Weeknight Chili

27 Mar

The snow from a few days ago is now gone, but spring is taking its time getting here. The blustery weather means warm and comforting soups and stews are still on the menu, but I don’t usually get home from work until after 6 pm, so I need quick and easy options like this chili. I make other versions that require more ingredients, more prep time, and more cooking time and though they are well worth the effort, this is my go-to chili for busy weeknights. If you have ground beef or turkey on hand, and canned tomatoes and beans in your cupboards, then you are good to go. We like to top this chili with diced onions, shredded cheese, and crushed tortilla chips. It also goes very nicely with cornbread, which can be made while the various parts of the chili are cooking.

Easy Weeknight Chili
Serves 6

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1.25 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 large onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes with jalapeno (or use plain diced tomatoes and add a 4-oz. can of diced green chilies)
1 (14.5-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15.5-oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained (but reserve liquid in case it is needed)
1 (15.5-oz.) can light red kidney beans, drained
pinch sugar
salt and pepper to taste


1. Cook the ground beef or turkey in 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot until no longer pink; remove from pot, drain if needed, and set aside.
2. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil to the pot and cook the onion in the oil until it is translucent and beginning to turn golden at the edges. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes, the reserved ground beef or turkey, and the beans; stir to combine. Add a pinch of sugar, then salt and pepper to taste.
4. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring periodically. If the chili seems too thick, add some of the reserved bean liquid. Adjust seasonings as needed.
5. Serve with the accompaniments mentioned above, and perhaps a green salad and fruit.

Recipe: Light and Easy Cassoulet

29 Jan

A cassoulet is a slow-cooked one-pot meal, originally from the south of France. It typically includes an assortment of meats, sausages, duck confit, and white beans, topped off with crispy bread crumbs. In essence, it is a hearty bean-based casserole meant to stick to your ribs.  But delicious as it may be, duck confit can be hard to come by. And while I appreciate hearty dishes as much as the next person, I wanted to see if I could make an equally flavorful version that was just a tiny bit lighter, relied upon easy-to-find ingredients appealing to all members of the family, and took less than a full day to make. So, out with the pork sausages and duck confit, and in with some turkey kielbasa and diced chicken breast. This cassoulet is also fantastic the next day, when the flavors have melded and the beans have thickened it a bit more.

Light and Easy Cassoulet

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. turkey kielbasa sausage, sliced  lengthwise and diced into quarters
1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, diced (or 1.5 c. grated carrots)
3 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 (14-oz.) cans small white beans (cannellini), undrained (or one large, 1 lb. 13 oz. can, undrained)
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with olive oil and garlic (or plain–see note below)
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (or plain–see note below)
splash white wine (optional)
2 bay leaves
lots of freshly ground pepper


1. Cook kielbasa in 1 tbsp. olive oil in Dutch Oven (or other heavy-bottomed pot) over medium-high heat until nicely browned. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink; remove kielbasa and chicken from pot.
2. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil to the pot, followed by the onion, carrot, celery, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Cook until soft, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the savory bits remaining from the kielbasa and chicken. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3. Return kielbasa and chicken to pot; mix into the vegetables. Add tomatoes, wine (if using), and bay leaves, plus another dusting of black pepper. NOTE: if using plain diced tomatoes, sprinkle roughly 1 tsp. each dried basil and oregano over top of the tomatoes. Mix well, then layer beans on top.
4. Simmer on low heat for about an hour, stirring gently every so often.
5. Serve cassoulet with hearty bread and a salad.

Recipe: Pakistani Chicken Patties

3 Dec

These patties are from an old New York Times recipe for Pakistani Seekh Kebabs. I first tasted them cold, at a picnic on the edge of a river after a hike with our friends. Our friends brought the patties as their picnic contribution, and they (the patties) were heavenly (though our friends are quite nice, too).

You could grill these, but you would miss out on the main reason to pan fry them in olive oil: the onions. As the patties cook, some of the onions fall out and turn golden brown in the olive oil. There is a battle at our house for those onion bits; their appeal cannot be underestimated.

So, hot or cold–all parts of these patties are delectable. We eat them with curried couscous (a bit of cross-cultural fusion) and the accompanying Cilantro Mint Chutney.

Pakistani Chicken Patties
Serves 8

2 lb. (.90 kg.) ground chicken or turkey, or a combination of both
1 egg yolk
1 large onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric
¼ c. cilantro, leaves and stems–finely chopped  (Note: if you are buying the cilantro in a bunch, you can use 1/3 for the patties 2/3 for the chutney)
2 teaspoons salt

olive oil

Cilantro Mint Chutney
1 c. (240 gr.) plain yogurt
1/4 c. (25 gr.) mint leaves
1/2 c. (50 gr.) cilantro, leaves and stems
1 tbsp. lemon juice (I’ve used 1/2 tbsp. vinegar in a pinch)
1/2 tsp. sugar

1. For patties, combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, shape meat mixture into patties with a spoon, and cook the patties in batches until golden. Serve with couscous and Cilantro Mint Chutney.

2. For chutney, combine ingredients in a blender or a small food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Refrigerate up to 2 days.

Recipe: Meatballs for Spaghetti

21 Nov

On Thanksgiving and by long tradition, 15+ family and friends join us to eat an almost equivalent number of dishes. This means that on Thanksgiving Eve, things can get a bit nutty. I usually have various items scattered about in various stages of preparation,  and it’s hard to think of what to make for dinner–or muster up much enthusiasm for cooking it on top of everything else. Enter one great husband, who this year chose and prepared a classic Italian dish far removed from the traditional Thanksgiving offerings: Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Except Spaghetti and Meatballs isn’t a classic Italian dish, since most Italians would never eat meatballs with pasta. In fact, we have Italian friends who would rather stab themselves with a fork than contemplate such a gastronomic travesty.  But those friends weren’t at our house this evening, so we were free to enjoy what is for many Americans a match made in heaven–one made even more heavenly by the fact that I had no hand in preparing it on this night of all nights. These fresh-tasting meatballs are adapted from the timeless New York Times Cookbook, by Craig Claiborne.

Meatballs for Spaghetti
Serves 8

1.5 lb. ground turkey
1 c. dry breadcrumbs (seasoned breadcrumbs are nice)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp. half-and-half, or cream
4 tbsp. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
4 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon rind
salt and pepper to taste

olive oil
spaghetti sauce
1 lb. spaghetti

1. Mix all the meatball ingredients and blend well. Shape into about 24 meatballs.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown meatballs, making sure not to crowd them (if necessary, cook in batches). Add sauce to skillet, and cook meatballs in sauce for about 15 minutes. (Or put sauce in a large saucepan, and add the meatballs to the sauce.)
3. Prepare spaghetti al dente, according to directions on package.
4. Serve meatballs with spaghetti and more Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Recipe: Spaghetti Bolognaise

3 Oct

This is a recipe whose origins trace back to Bologna, in Northern Italy. But one of the reasons Italian food is is so beloved around the world is because it is so incredibly adaptable–and Spaghetti Bolognaise is a great example. You can add what you like, subtract what you don’t, and the result will be something you’ve made your own that still speaks the language of its birth.

This recipe is more of a guideline: I like to make this with ground turkey, but other ground meats (or none at all) would work well, too; in fact, this can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by substituting chopped mushrooms for the meat and adding zucchini or other veggies. Sometimes I discover I don’t have tomato sauce, so I add more tomato paste and wine. Occasionally, I run out of fresh garlic and resort to garlic powder. No matter how much I tweak this recipe, it always turns out well, and for that reason alone it is a true keeper. As a final note, you can easily double this recipe to feed a crowd or to freeze the extra so you can have some on hand for busy weeknight meals.

Spaghetti Bolognaise
Serves 6

1 pkg. ground turkey (1-1.25 lb.)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
1/2-1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 c. red wine (I use Chianti if we have it; if not, I grab whatever is at hand)
1 (14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar (optional–I add it to heighten the flavor of the tomatoes)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or my favorite, Pecorino Romano)

1. Cook the turkey in a lightly oiled skillet until no longer pink. Remove from the skillet, drain, and set aside in a covered bowl.
2. In a large saucepan, cook the onion and carrots in olive oil over medium heat until onion is soft and beginning to brown at the edges. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and basil, and cook for a couple minutes more.
3. Add turkey to saucepan and stir in 1/4 c. wine. Cook until most of the wine has reduced. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, remaining 1/4 c. wine, and sugar (if using). Season with salt and pepper.
4. Reduce heat and let sauce simmer uncovered for about half an hour, stirring periodically. Check seasonings and add more salt, pepper, sugar, or basil as needed. If sauce is too thin, stir in more tomato paste. If sauce is too thick, splash in a bit more wine.
5. Cook spaghetti in a large pot with plenty of lightly salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain, and toss with a small amount of olive oil to keep from sticking.
6. Serve the spaghetti with the Bolognaise sauce and with grated cheese.