Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Orleans Turkey Stew

Printable version

This year for Thanksgiving I wasn’t hosting a party, and wasn’t responsible for any of the major traditional dishes at either of the gatherings I was going to. I had made a large Thanksgiving dinner two weeks before the holiday to post the recipes here, so I had my fix of traditional Turkey Day cooking.

I did want to make something to take to both the parties though. The day before the holiday I went to the grocery store with an open mind. I found ground turkey on sale, which seems logical. If there is any week of the year when ground turkey would have some serious competition from whole turkey I would bet that week would be Thanksgiving. Having a sale on it is probably the only way to move it off the shelves. I bought a three pound package. Just down the isle I found smoked sausage at a bargain price. Check. After finding the two I thought I would make a Thanksgiving jambalaya.

I first browned the turkey then created a vegetable base with the New Orleans holy trinity of green pepper, onion and celery to start the dish. I had purchased red beans to go into the pot and because of that, I decided at the last minute to leave out the rice, I figured the beans would be enough starch. Once I got everything into the pot it was a bit to soupy, so I thickened it with a cornstarch slurry and what I wound up with was a New Orleans inspired Turkey stew. I think I could have still used the rice and made it more like a jambalaya but I’m pleased with the results. I didn’t have hardly any left over so I’m pretty sure it went over well with both sides of the family.

BEHIND THIS BITE
New Orleans Turkey Stew

This dish marked the first time I had ever used a cornstarch slurry to thicken a dish with success. Years ago, I called my Mom in a frenzy while attempting to make a stew and she told me to add cornstarch to a little water then pour it in. Me being as stubborn as I am, decided to skip the dissolve in water part and just threw it into the pot. Obviously, it didn’t work. I just ended up with a lump of cornstarch in my beef soup. After that I had always used a flour based roux to thicken stews.

Acting fast to find a thickener with my Thanksgiving creation, I remembered my cornstarch disaster from yesteryear and decided to go for it. This time I dissolved it in an equal part of water and wala! it worked! Who knew!

I was so impressed with the results that I made traditional beef stew a couple days later and used the same technique to thicken it. What I like about using the cornstarch thickener over the flour thickener is that the cornstarch doesn’t change the color. Flour seems to give the liquid a blond color.

This is why I love cooking, there is always something new to be discovered.

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
New Orleans Turkey Stew

Serves 10 to 12; 45 minutes
3 lbs Ground turkey
1 C Onion, diced
1 C Celery, diced
1 C Green pepper, diced
1 Tbs Garlic, minced
6 C Chicken broth
2 lbs Smoked sausage
1 can Diced tomatoes (28 oz)
2 cans Red beans (14 oz each)
2 Tbs Cajun seasoning
2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/4 C Cornstarch
1/4 C Water

Brown turkey
In a dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat brown turkey in a little olive oil, 6 to 8 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a bowl or plate. Disregard all put 2 tablespoons of drippings.

Create base
In reserved drippings, sauté onion, green pepper and celery until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add garlic, cook 1 minute more or until fragrant.

Make stew
Return turkey to pot and stir in broth, sausage, red beans, tomatoes, Cajun seasoning and oregano. Bring to a simmer and let cook 20 minutes. Whisk together water and cornstarch is a small bowl until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Stir into pot, simmer 10 minutes more or until liquid thickens. Remove from heat and serve.

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