When the snow birds come calling, I take it as a cue to comfort my palate. With falling temperatures, it’s important that I find the right dish to warm this stomach of mine. Could have gone a myriad of ways; however, I chose to pay a visit to a familiar dish of mine.
Can’t go wrong with a pot of turkey chili. Oh, it’s so simple to whip up. Moreover, it’s chock full of amazing flavors that excite my anticipating taste buds. In fact, I often tend to forget that it’s healthy because of the deliciousness within each bite.
That’s what I call a dish with a fine mouth-watering balance.
A Mexican grandmother would be super-proud of this dish. Though it took approximately an hour to prepare and cook, it tasted like hours of joyful/laborious cooking. Of course, ground turkey was the star of this chili dish. There are many variations to this dish and I must state that I’m happy about this one.
I took advantage of fresh and store-bought ingredients:
scotch bonnet pepper
red (chili) beans (spicy)
cold tap water
Ground turkey was brown in a sturdy skillet consisting of a drizzle of olive oil. This was seasoned with salt, black pepper, and other dry ingredients. Then, chopped onions, bell peppers, jalapeno, scotch bonnet peppers, and other fresh ingredients were added along with tomato paste, Mexican salsa, a pinch of sugar. Also, a cup of cold tap water.
With a lid on, this slowly simmered on low heat. About 15 to 20 minutes to end of cooking time, spicy red chili beans were added. Mouth-watering chili was topped with a dollop of sour cream along with diced avocado and tomatoes. Instead of cilantro, it was garnished with Italian flat-leaf parsley I had on hand.
Frankly, I didn’t miss the ‘beef’. With the marrying of all these ingredients, my turkey chili was very delicious. My taste buds and I were over the moon. I felt like harping “Ole! Ole!”
Not all balls are created equal. There are balls. And, there are BALLS!! Of course, I went the ones that screamed enormous flavors. After all, I’ve been here before. It’s amazing how a few added ingredients can tweak a bland poultry dish into an amazing one.
The main ‘player’ (ingredient) that made my turkey dish super-special was a small input of jerk seasoning from the jar. Thanks to the ethnic aisle in my neighborhood store, I was able to be transported to Jamaica. A pinch goes a long way. That small move took my balls to another level. In addition, sautéed diced veggies and other ingredients consisting of:
panko bread crumbs
were added in order to make these balls succulent and mouth-watering. Instead of frying my balls, I baked them for approximately 20 minutes at 375-degree fahrenheit. Then, they were placed a sweet and sour sauce consisting of a pinch of jerk sauce.
My balls were extremely happy and receptive. They absorbed all the sticky, sour, spicy and sweet ingredients.
So glad that I took the time to play with my balls (well, the seasoning of my ground turkey). Balls never tasted so good. I desired turkey balls that were firm on the exterior and super-moist and succulent on the interior.
And, I think I achieved same. You see, ground turkey is somewhat bland and normally requires the input of spices, flavors, and other ingredients in order to perk up and gain a mouth-watering dish. Raided my pantry and refrigerator and added the following finely chopped ingredients: a ‘holy trinity’ of sort.
scotch bonnet pepper
Panko bread crumbs
Folded sauteed assorted veggies in turkey along with other ingredients. Balls were made and sprinkled with olive oil. These were baked in oven for 15 to 18 minutes at 375 degrees fahrenheit.
Balls were then simmered a sweet and sour sauce made up of :
pinch of salt
They absorbed all the mouth-watering flavors. Balls were then garnished with finely chopped parsley.
I knew I had ingredients for a spectacular dish. However, on this day, I was a tad indecisive on what to prepare for supper. The previous evening before I ventured for work, I placed some chopped turkey on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator for thawing. Thought I would whip up some curried balls.
But now on the day of reckoning, my palate and I didn’t feel like doing a repeat performance. At a quick glance on the counter, I spotted some juicy and super-red tomatoes.
Got four of them a few days ago at the produce aisle of my store for $1.99. Thought they were a fairly good bargain; so, I brought them home and placed same on the counter top. Used up one in its natural form. I chopped up same and drizzled a little olive oil and a pinch of salt/pepper to taste along with crushed garlic. This was topped on a piece of crusty warm bread. I was in heaven.
So, the remainder of my three tomatoes perched there as if to say, “What’s wrong with us? Are we chopped liver?” Immediately an idea came to my head. I decided on a homemade tomato sauce that screamed Italian. An amalgamation was in mind. Clearly, it was looking to be an Italian kind of night.
A scan of the pantry yielded quite a find. Nestled between the shell and linguine pastas was my whole grain penne pasta. On close inspection, I learned that there was enough to make my international dish.
I was in business, with all my main ingredients assembled, I went to work.
In a hot skillet, a little olive oil was drizzled and ground turkey was added. The spices and seasoning added were salt, black pepper, and dried oregano/basil. As soon as turkey took on its brown hue, chopped onion, garlic, thyme, bell peppers were added to skillet for more flavoring. This was then set aside in a bowl.
In a separate sturdy skillet, finely chopped onions,bell peppers were added to a drizzle of olive oil. These were seasoned along with salt and black pepper. It was time, I added my chopped tomatoes and four diced olives for more flavors. My sauce called for a little more tomatoes, so, once again, I raided my pantry and found a can of diced tomatoes.
So, I let it work for me. With the sprinkle of a little dried oregano, basil and a pinch of sugar, my tomato sauce was all done.
Penne pasta was cooked in salted water in al dente form. This was then drained making sure to reserve a little water in case I needed for later. Pasta and sauce were then added to chopped turkey. I tossed in my shredded cheddar cheese and folded all the ingredients.
All ingredients were combined and placed in a greased baking dish. A sprinkle of a little more cheese, bread crumbs and olive oil were mixed. That was added on the top of Italian Penne bake and placed in a heated oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
Guys, this was my Italian Penne bake. And, I was over the moon about this delicious dish.
I know; I know. Clearly, these balls, (turkey balls) aren’t gigantic in size. However, they are super packed with big flavors and mouth-watering taste.
Typically, ground turkey is rather bland in taste especially if the fat content is minimal. As a result, I had to incorporate some intense flavors and spices in order to obtain a succulent finished dish. With a little aid from Caribbean, Mediterranean and Asia’s spices, I nabbed the perfect union of flavors.
Guys, I’m talking about spices and ingredients like curry power, cumin, coconut milk and chickpeas (garbanzo beans). I do think that some of these spices and ingredients are somewhat underused in many western cuisines. Perhaps, it’s because some of us aren’t familiar with the usage of them in regular everyday dishes. As a result, we sometimes buy them with the good intentions of utilizing, but, they end up in the rear of the spice rack gathering dust.
Because these spices are staples in my pantry at home and from my childhood days in Jamaica, I reckoned I could experiment with them in my turkey balls. I took the plunge and added a pinch of cumin and curry powder to my ground turkey and they made a world of difference. The flavors are pungent and bold. A pinch of each goes a far way. Overusing (especially the curry) could result in a bitter taste. However, with just the right amount, it can alter an average dish to an acme one.
So, with the infusion of these amazing spices (old world spices), they brought my turkey balls to another level. Using them will surprise the taste buds in a great way and make you wonder why you’ve not used them in past dishes.
On my recent shopping trip to my neighborhood store (Publix) I purchased three cans of 15.5 ounces chickpeas (garbanzo beans) for $2. They were on sale. So, I made a curry-based/coconut milk sauce with all the similar ingredients from the ground turkey. I then drained and immersed my garbanzo beans. I allowed them to simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
Turkey balls were drizzled with a little olive oil and were baked for 15 minutes at ( 350 degrees F). They were then placed under the broiler for another 5 minutes to acquire a brown exterior. Balls were then added to the curry/coconut chickpeas sauce in order to absorb all the exotic flavors. Dish can be served as is with a green salad or on a bed of brown rice.
Guys, with this dish, even JLo and Nicky Minaj would approve. By the way, I can’t promise that you’ll get a huge derriere, but I can guarantee you gigantic and mouthwatering flavors.