TURKEY JALAPENO MEATBALLS

I’ve been playing with an ingredient that is quite likely very popular in many kitchens, but new to me. A bit embarrassed to admit, but here we go: pickled jalapenos. They are sold in big jars, cute slices of pepper swimming in a liquid that makes your tastebuds tingle. I may have developed a slight obsession. These meatballs are very light and super flavorful. Contrary to most recipes, you won’t have to brown them, but you can if you prefer. My method of choice is the pressure cooker, but I offer you other ways to cook them too. Just in case you are a pressure-phobe.

TURKEY-JALAPENO MEATBALLS
(inspired by The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book)

for the meatballs:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon brine liquid from pepper jar
cilantro leaves and stems (to taste, I like to use a lot)
1 + 1/2 pound ground turkey
½ cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

for the tomato sauce:
(you can also use your favorite store-bought tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can crushed tomatoes with juices (28 oz)
2 shallots, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Add the jalapeno slices, the brine, the olive oil and the cilantro leaves into the bowl of a small food processor and process the mixture a few times. Add it to the ground turkey in a large bowl, together with all other ingredients for the meatballs. Mix with your hands without compressing the mixture too much. For into twelve large meatballs. Reserve in the fridge. Can be made hours in advance or even the day before.

Make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker, add the shallots, celery and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Add the crushed tomatoes. Place the meatballs on the sauce, if the sauce does not reach half the height of the meatballs, complete the volume with water. Lock the lid onto the pot. Set the pot over high heat and bring it to high pressure then cook for 10 minutes. Release the pressure and open the pan. If needed, reduce the sauce by simmering gently.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are serving these meatballs as an appetizer, I recommend that you make them smaller, and either fry them, air-fry them (about 12 min at 390F), or bake them. As an appetizer, I think they profit from a nice browned crust. But as a main course, I prefer to cook them straight in the sauce. The pressure cooker makes them perfect to my taste, but if you don’t own one you can make them in a crockpot set for 6 hours on low. Alternatively, you can simmer them on top of the stove, until they are fully cooked, but the sauce won’t have the same depth of flavor as the pressure cooker offers. Pressure cooking tames the spices a bit, so if you opt for another method, consider reducing a little bit the amount of pickled jalapenos you use.

I find them delicious next to a simple salad, but of course the traditional way would be alongside a nice helping of pasta. It will keep you satisfied, even if much lighter than the usual Italian style meatballs.

The best compliment a recipe gets in this kitchen is the husband saying “you must put this one in our regular rotation.” I fully agree. And I suspect the bottle of pickled jalapenos will have a dedicated spot in our fridge from now on.

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APRICOT AND BALSAMIC GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS

Simple to the limit. Very tasty. If you have a pressure cooker or the famous InstantPot, you can have this main dish at your table any night of the week. I got the idea for it from a delicious shredded chicken I made also under pressure. For this one, I changed the flavors and reduced the cooking time so that the pieces of chicken would still hold together.  Probably excellent with orange marmalade instead of apricot jam. Hey, go wild and try mango jam, if you have it around.

APRICOT AND BALSAMIC GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

¼ cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 to 3 tsp fresh)

In a small bowl, whisk the jam and vinegar together until very smooth. Depending on how thick your jam is, add a small amount of warm water to help loosening the mixture a bit. Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker set over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides (do it in batches if needed).  Return all the pieces to the pot.

Pour the jam-vinegar mixture over the meat; add the thyme.  Add some water to bring the liquid about 1/3 of the heigh of the chicken pieces.  Lock the lid onto the pressure cooker and bring it to full pressure.  Cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure manually, if needed reduce the liquid by simmering for a few minutes.

Adjust seasoning and serve with your side dish of choice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We enjoyed it with our favorite rice of the moment, easy Tahdig-Rice, which I blogged about in my latest Incredibly Simple series.  Some sauteed asparagus rounded our meal pretty nicely. If you like a bit more spice, add a touch of Harissa or Sriracha to the jam mixture. I intend to try that next time.

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CHERRY CHIPOTLE CHICKEN THIGHS

Oddly enough, this chicken recipe was born from a batch of French macarons. I know, how could it be? It turns out that I made a filling for macarons using white chocolate ganache and sour cherry jam. Quite a bit of jam was left in the jar, and I knew it would sit in the fridge at the risk of being forgotten. Why not put it to use in a savory recipe? I adapted bits from a few cookbooks, and came up with a pressure cooker version for chicken thighs that had some sweetness, some spice, some sourness, and what I love the most: that falling-apart texture.  I hope you give it a try.

CHERRY CHIPOTLE SHREDDED CHICKEN
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cherry jam
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

Place the tomatoes, jam, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, chipotle, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, and cloves in a blender. Blend and pour the smooth sauce in a pressure cooker.

Add the boneless chicken thighs, whole. Close the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) and bring to full pressure. Cook for 20 minutes,  release the pressure manually, and remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks (it should be very tender). 

Add the shredded meat back to the sauce, heat gently for a few minutes, adjust seasoning (you may need a bit more salt).  Serve over rice or the side dish of your choice. Also great as a filling for fajitas.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As a good Brazilian-American, I use my pressure cooker all year, but of course now that the temperature outside starts to fall down, this type of comfort food shows up more often in our menu. On weeknights, the pressure cooker is the best tool to have a meal with that aura of hours and hours in the making, materialize in the blink of an eye. Well, a few blinks. Not that many, though.

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TURKEY CHILI UNDER PRESSURE

Yes, my pressure cooker has been working hard these days. Only last week I shared a recipe for chicken thighs, and now a very nice chili made in 30 minutes. Thanks to the power of pressure, it delivered the same luscious flavor of one left on the stove top for hours, simmering away.  I was not too fond of beans in chili, in fact it’s the first time I made it this way. It won’t be the last. Surprising how well the flavors mingle, with the beans giving a nice creamy feel to the chili without any addition of extra fat.

TURKEY CHILI IN THE PRESSURE COOKER
(adapted from The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book)

1 T olive oil
1.5 pounds ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
1/2 onion, diced (optional, I omitted)
2 ribs of celery, diced
1.5 teaspoons salt
black pepper
1 tablespoon chili
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 can stewed tomatoes (about 14 oz)
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (about 14 oz, I used Muir Glen)
1 can white kidney beans, well-rinsed
1/2 cup water (if needed)
garnishes of your choice

Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker, add the onion and celery, season lightly with salt and pepper. Sautee until translucent and fragrant. Add the ground turkey and cook in high heat until well-seared. Add the salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika and cumin.  Mix well.

Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, and enough water to almost cover the meat, if needed.  Close the pressure cooker, let it come up to full pressure, and cook for 20 minutes.

Release the pressure quickly, and if needed, reduce the liquid by simmering for a few minutes with the lid open.

Serve with the garnishes of your choice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Some recipes for turkey chili call for a huge amount of fat in the form of sour cream and cheese. I’ve seen recipes very similar to this one, except for the fact that before serving 3/4 cup of sour cream and 1 cup of shredded cheese would be added, and simmered for a few minutes. Honestly, I don’t see the need. The white beans provide all the creamy feeling we might crave. We enjoyed it quite simply with some diced avocados. This was a comforting chili that did not leave us prostrated on the sofa for a couple of hours. Perfect. The picture above was taken when I re-heated the meal for serving. I had prepared it in the morning for our Sunday dinner. As it is always the case for this type of concoction, it gets better next day. You can do it in the Instant Pot, and you can do it in a regular pan, just cook until super tender, probably 90 minutes or so would be ideal. Come to think of it, the crock pot might come in handy too…

Note to self: try to always keep some parsley or cilantro in the fridge!

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FESENJAN, FAST-FOOD STYLE

When you buy a container with fresh pomegranate seeds from the store, you need to put it to use before the husband hits said container and inhales them all while watching Broadchurch late at night. I managed to salvage enough seeds to showcase them over a favorite of mine, Fesenjan. Yes, I’ve blogged about it in the past (click here), but this time I used the pressure cooker and really enjoyed the added lusciousness-factor the method provided. If you have a pressure cooker,  or the fashionable instant pot, you can turn this classic into fast-food. Can you imagine so much joy on a weeknight dinner?

FESENJAN
(slightly adapted from A Calculated Whisk)

6 ounces walnut halves, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup pomegranate seeds, for serving
chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Place the toasted walnuts in a food processor and grind them to a coarse powder. Reserve.

On a large skillet or in the pressure cooker (on the instant pot), heat the olive oil and add the chicken pieces seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown them lightly, if necessary in two batches. Reserve.  Add the shallots, saute’ for a couple of minutes, then add the turmeric, cinnamon and cardamon. Stir until fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock. If using a skillet, transfer the mixture to the pressure cooker now.

Add the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses and honey. Stir to combine, Close the pressure cooker and once full pressure is achieved, cook for 15 minutes. Release the pressure, if the sauce is too thin, cook for a few minutes with the lid open to reduce it.
Serve the chicken with fresh pomegranate seeds and cilantro leaves scattered on top.
 
 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: If you don’t have a pressure cooker (or an Instant Pot) you can obviously adapt it for a regular pan, just cook it on a very low simmer for 45 minutes to one hour. I like the chicken to be super tender.  Pomegranate molasses is a great ingredient to have in your pantry. You can cook down pomegranate juice with sugar to the point of a syrup, and use that instead, but the convenience of opening a bottle is hard to beat. If you’d like to make it from scratch, here is a good method.

Fesenjan goes well over white rice, over Persian rice (see my version here), or cauliflower rice for those who prefer to follow a low-carb route. Leftovers enjoyed inside a corn tortilla are a no-no. If you know a food blogger who admits in public to doing that, stop following her (or him) immediately.

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