11 July 2011

Picnic suite for flute, guitar and jazz piano trio: I. Rococo

Well, no, I really don't want to cook much when it's hot. I'm not even very interested in eating.

This does not stop my family, of course, and they would happily heat up my kitchen with boiling pots of water and the oven set to 450F. The only thing I can do is forestall them with fast, easy meals.

You can stuff just about anything into a flour tortilla: meat, beans, cheese, vegetables. As kids, we'd melt butter on them, sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top, roll them up and devour. Not that that would make much of a dinner these days, but you get the idea.

By accident, I discovered a filling that everyone really likes: taco-spiced ground turkey. Generally, I avoid making tacos, burritos or chili with ground turkey because it's far too dry when cooked. When using it in meatloaf or burgers, I usually add an aioli or a small amount of other fat to lend some moisture and flavor. In this case, using a little water with the dry seasoning mix really brings up the flavor and moisture without adding any additional fat to the meat.

The jumping off point for the filling is this taco seasoning recipe I found online. All hail Mr. Echols because it really is delicious with a good balance of spices, and it's a far cry from the packaged versions (the spouse grew up with those. I won't use them). I do use less salt because so many processed meats, even fresh ones, contain salt solutions.

And of course, I changed the spice mix. But just a little to reflect the combination of flavors that I like (chipotle!), and it's been a huge success with family. And it's fast. And it's pretty healthy.

Taco-spiced turkey filling

2-1/2 teaspoons chili powder (Regular is good, but I like ground ancho chili, too)
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 20-oz package of lean ground turkey

Mix the first 10 ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Brown turkey, breaking up into crumbles, in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the turkey is cooked, sprinkle spice mixture over the meat and add 1/4-1/3 cup of water. Stir turkey, spices and water together until the turkey is evenly coated, and simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated, stirring occasionally and scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Serve with flour tortillas, grated cheese, chopped onion, shredded lettuce, and lime wedges. Four servings.

Go listen to some good music: "Picnic suite for flute, guitar and jazz piano trio: I. Rococo" from the album Picnic Suite by Claude Bolling, Daniel Humair, Guy Pederson & Jean-Pierre Rampal.

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