AFRICAN PEANUT STEW WITH SMOKED TURKEY

Fact: I’ve had this recipe waiting since 2005 when a friend raved about it. I know that for sure because I was cleaning files in my computer and stumbled on this folder of “must make recipes.” with a date of May 2005. Fourteen years. Talk about taking my sweet time. To make things even more interesting, I did not include the recipe, but something that at the time seemed enough for me to retrieve it. Mean Chef’s Favorite Chicken Peanut Stew.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I have no idea which recipe he was referring to, but found a bunch of possibilities online and from that I came up with this version that turned out absolutely blog-worthy. I used turkey breast that we smoked ourselves, but you can go with the more authentic version that calls for chicken thighs.

AFRICAN PEANUT STEW WITH SMOKED TURKEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

1/2 turkey breast, smoked (or 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skinless)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 piece of ginger, minced (about 2 tsp)
salt and pepper
2 sweet potatoes, cut in large pieces
3 cups chicken stock
1 can small diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen, about 15 ounces)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2 tsp ground coriander

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. If using chicken thighs, brown them well on all sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go, and adding more oil if needed. Remove the chicken to a bowl as you work with the other ingredients.

Add the fennel pieces and the ginger to the pan, a touch more of salt and pepper, saute until fragrant.  Add the sweet potatoes, stir a few times, then add the chicken stock, stirring the contents to release any bits stuck to the pan.

Add the tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, and coriander, mix well to combine. If using chicken thighs, add them now. Cover the pan and cook for about one hour at gentle heat, until chicken is cooked through.  If using smoked turkey (or any type of pre-cooked poultry), cook the sweet potatoes until tender, then add the pieces of meat and simmer everything together for 10 minutes or so.

If using chicken thighs, when they are tender, remove the pieces, shred the meat, discard the bones. Add the meat back to the stew and simmer it all together for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning, add cilantro right before serving.
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SMOKED TURKEY BREAST

1 turkey breast, bone-in
1 (64-oz.) bottle apple cider
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 rosemary sprigs
10 fresh sage leaves
1 hickory wood chunk
1 black walnut wood chunk

Make the brine in advance to give it time to cool completely. Bring cider all ingredients up to wood chunks to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Cool completely.

Place turkey in brine; cover and chill for 12 hours.

Heat smoker to 250 F. Place wood chunks receptacle. Remove turkey from brine, and dry with paper towels. Smoke turkey, maintaining temperature inside smoker between 225° and 250°, for around 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 165°. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I know most people do not have an electric smoker, but please don’t let that prevent you from trying this recipe, go for chicken thighs and it will be equally delicious. I must say, however, that the stuff that we smoke at home is so much better than anything bought at the store, that it makes the investment worth it. Salmon is the best example, but turkey comes a close second. I would not dream of making this stew using store-bought smoke turkey. It is way too harsh and intense, with a very dry texture. In this dish we can detect some hint of smoke in the background but it is subtle and delicate.

We both thought that this would be a perfect recipe for Thanksgiving for two or four people. You know, when roasting the whole bird seems like unnecessary trouble. It has the perfect combination of flavors. Add some sage instead – or in addition to – coriander, and you will be all set with a great meal for that special holiday of November. I intend to remind my readers about it when the time comes… but first, there is a lot of Spring and Summer to enjoy and I CANNOT WAIT.

ONE YEAR AGO: First Monday Favorite Feb 2018

TWO YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite Feb 2017

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NINE YEARS AGO: Croissants: Paris at home on a special day

 

 

TWISTED SISTER OF THE SHEPHERD’S PIE

The traditional Shepherd’s Pie, a delicacy from Ireland, is a casserole type dish made with lamb and veggies covered with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven.  After our Thanksgiving meal this year, I decided to improvise on a version to use our leftover turkey, roasted sweet potatoes, and gravy.  It turned out much better than I expected, so I must share with you. Plus, it gives me a chance to show off our recent gift, the Le Creuset baking dish… gorgeous!

If you already used up your leftover turkey meat, ground turkey could work well too, but spice it up with more sage, maybe some sautéed mushrooms, and use some type of stock slightly thickened with a roux in place of gravy.

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SWEET POTATO & TURKEY SHEPHERD’S PIE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

leftover roast turkey, preferably dark meat, cut in small chunks
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 shallot, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas
a few leaves of fresh sage, minced
salt and pepper
gravy from your Thanksgiving turkey
cooked sweet potatoes
veggie stock, amount variable
low-fat milk, amount variable

Cut enough leftover turkey meat to fully cover your baking dish. Give preference to dark meat, but a mixture of dark and breast works fine.  Reserve.

Sautee the shallot and diced carrots in olive oil until they start to get some color, and soften up slightly. Season with salt and pepper,  then add the turkey meat, the frozen peas, and the sage.  Mix gently until the peas defrost, add some gravy, enough to moisten the whole mixture.   Pour into a baking dish.

Prepare the potatoes by warming them slightly in a microwave, then mashing them with a little veggie stock and milk, also warmed up in a microwave.  Taste, and if necessary, adjust seasoning.   You need to add just enough liquid to be able to spread the mashed potatoes over the turkey.

Spoon the mashed sweet potatoes over the turkey & veggies, and place in a 375 F oven for 30 minutes or until all bubbly and hot.

Remove from the oven, let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Phil is always in charge of roasting our Thanksgiving turkey, which he does according to his family recipe. Our bird is stuffed with a mixture of bread, sausage, celery, green apples… absolutely delicious!   He also  makes the gravy, which ends up dark brown, thick and very flavorful. Usually, he is also in charge of coming up with leftover ideas, but this year I decided to explore this road on my own.

This was so good!  Comfort food indeed, but not overly heavy, sweet potatoes are less filling than regular ones.  I know that using ground turkey could work too, but honestly, this recipe is best if made with leftover roast turkey,  moistened with real gravy.  Phil and I enjoyed some of this “Twisted Shepherd’s Pie”  for our dinner, and the rest is in the freezer, waiting for one of my stepsons who will be visiting us soon.  I know he will love it!

plated1Dinner is served!

ONE YEAR AGO: Hail Caesar Sourdough

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FOUR YEARS AGO: 100% Sourdough Rye

CRIMSON AND CREAM CHILI

The weather is cooling off and football season is warming up!  Because our university team is ranked near the top this year  every game matters, and they’re all nail-biters.  This weekend brings the season’s most anticipated and exciting game, OU vs Texas.   It’s a great rivalry, a grudge match for the schools, and every year both cancel classes the day beforehand  so that students can drive to Dallas and watch the pageantry and festivities in the Cotton Bowl, surrounded by the Texas State Fair.   I have mixed feelings about it.  It’s a wild, wild adrenaline ride.   But, sports attract too much attention and praise, relative to the pitiful amount given to academia and research.  The coaches make so much money, making me painfully aware of how broke our academic departments are.  It makes me wonder if the priorities aren’t a bit twisted.   On the other hand, we all know what may happen if the University withdraws financial support  from its  sports programs. The TV revenues will drop, and the schools will have lower profits, resulting in even greater struggles for scientific research.  Having failed to solve this pressing problem of the universe,  I go back to food.  😉 … Ohhh, and I almost forgot: GO SOONERS!

Football food. Several classic options come to mind: hamburgers, grilled sausages, hot-dogs, one-pot type meals like… chili!  Once chili was mentioned, we reached a delightful agreement.  I modified a turkey version from  The Gourmet Cookbook, to showcase the colors of our team, crimson and cream.   It was like throwing a 98-yard touch down pass!

CRIMSON AND CREAM TURKEY CHILI
(adapted from Gourmet)

2 chipotle chilis in Adobe sauce (canned)
1/2 cup water
2 cans ( 15 oz each) diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 Tbs olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 pounds ground turkey (dark meat or a 50/50 mix of dark & white)
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 red bell pepper, roasted, chopped
1 – 2 minced serrano peppers
1 Tbs cornmeal
1/2 can of white beans, rinsed (about 8 ounces)
fresh cilantro leaves, minced

Puree the canned chipotle beans with the water in a blender or small food processor, Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan, ad the shallot, saute for a couple of minutes, add the cumin, mix well and cook for another minute.  Add the ground turkey, increase the heat, and cook stirring often, until browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the chipotle puree, the canned tomatoes, chicken stock, bay leaf, oregano, and salt, and simmer without a lid for 1 hour.  If the level of liquid drops below the surface of the meat, add more water.   Add the red bell pepper, serrano chiles, and cornmeal, and continue simmering gently for another 30 minutes.

Stir the white beans into the mixture, discard the bay leaf, taste, adjust seasoning, and right before serving add as much cilantro as you like.  Serve with sour cream, sliced green onions, and shredded cheese on the side.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Compared to our default recipe for chili, this one is much easier to prepare, and – I cannot believe I’ll be saying this –  I like it even better!   It has beans in it, which would normally turn me off, I rather have my chili with meat and peppers only, in a tomato-base stew.  But, in this case, the beans added creaminess and flavor, perfect alongside the delicate turkey meat.  Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are simply too tasty.  If you haven’t cooked with them yet, grab some on your next stop at the grocery store and you will be going back for more…

Hope you are all having a great weekend, football or not on your menu…  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

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