Friday, December 7, 2018

Turkey Carnitas for Tacos & Burritos - Video Recipe

My latest recipe is a lighter version of Mexican-style Pork Carnitas. I often look for Pork Carnitas being slow-cooked by street vendors, like Leo's Taco Turck, in a Los Angeles alley or sidewalk. I just pull over and get in line for a luscious Carnitas taco after being on the town late at night.

Hey, with my easy to make Turkey Carnitas recipe, you can cut in line and have a taco or burrito anytime!

I know there are a lot of you who have dietary restrictions against pork products, so this recipe is for you. So all my Jewish or Muslim readers can now enjoy real L.A. street tacos, right at home.

And with Christmas right around the corner, Turkey is extra cheap. And this recipe travels well if you are a designated potluck provider.

For my recipe, I use two dark meat drumsticks, that weigh in about a pound each. They are often on sale for less than a $1.50 per pound at my local Latin grocery store. For extra-tender and juicy Turkey Carnitas, dark leg meat is the way to go, you can use thigh meat or even turkey wings, too. For Thanksgiving or Christmas Turkey Carnitas the sales are on full blast!

I get my spices and dried herbs at the local Dollar Tree and 99c only Stores. I use garlic powder and dried onion, but you can use fresh veggies if you like. So between dollar store spices and meat sales at an ethnic grocery, a lot of dinero is staying in your pockets!

Click on any photo to see larger.

I first noticed Turkey Carnitas in cafeteria-style heating bins in the deli section of my local Latin  market. And they are not cheap at about $7 per pound, so I decided to just make some myself.

Latin market Turkey Carnitas

Theirs seem to be drier than my fresh made, but that could be the result of  hours under heating lamps - which do give Turkey Carnitas an extra chrispy edge. To get that I just bake some cooked meat in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to get some crunchy bits.

I flavor Turkey Carnitas with typical spices and herbs that Pork Carnitas also use. The most important ones are: cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Extra spices include thyme, bay leaf, and chopped or dried onion - so if you don't have those, it's okay to leave them out.

The trick is to slow-cook or braise the turkey legs in water and/or broth for 2 to 3 hours until tender. With Pork Carnitas, pork shoulder is used that has fatty skin and marbling. They are slow-cooked in it's rendered fat, for that luscious flavor.

My Turkey Carnitas are lean and mean, since there is little fat in turkey legs. I do leave the skin on, but you could take it off. Since turkey is much more pungent than pork, this helps make up for the extra fatty flavor you get with typical Pork Carnitas. And two turkey legs will feed the whole family!

Flour and corn tortillas are cheap these days, too. All I do is add a little oil on a pan and heat them up for a minute - stack on a plate and cover with a paper towel to keep warm.

You can use your fave jar of salsa for your taco topping. If you like your tacos gringo-style then chop some tomato, iceberg lettuce and open a bag of shredded cheddar cheese. Or kick it up a notch and click on any of the following salsa names to get my homemade recipes: Roasted Salsa Verde (tomatillo,) Red Chili (2 dried types - but same recipe,) Pico de Gallo, Mango, and an Avocado Crema.

My cheap$kate recipe is easy to make, just turkey legs and a few spices and herbs that are slow-cooked -- so all you need is a little patience, and the payoff is bigtime. And I just use dried herbs and spices, so you don't even have to chop anything.

So if you're looking for a dish to serve at your next taco party then try out my Turkey Carnitas. Let your guests do all the work and build their own. Just set out some chopped onion, cilantro and your fave salsa, oh and kick it up a notch with some sliced avocado, too.

Turkey Carnitas - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 3 minutes 10 seconds

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (about 12 tacos)

  • 2 turkey legs - about 3-4 pounds total. Okay to use thighs or wings. Use a turkey breast too, although it's a bit drier to my tastes.
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano - fresh or dried. 
  • 1 teaspoon thyme - fresh or dried.
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion - okay to use 1/2 chopped onion.
  • 1 tablespoon dried garlic - okay to use 2 chopped cloves garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder - okay to substitute with paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water or broth

Add turkey legs to a large pan or pot, over a medium heat. I leave the skin on. It renders very little fat, but okay if you want to remove it.

Sprinkle on the spices including cumin, oregano, thyme, dried or fresh onion and garlic, chili or paprika powder.

Salt and pepper to taste, or about a 1/4 teaspoon salt and half teaspoon pepper.

Pour in 2 cups of water or a favorite broth. On your stovetop, bring the cooking pot to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook covered for 2 - 3 hours until meat separates easily with a fork.

You are cooking the Turkey Carnitas so the broth reduces and intensifies and the meat becomes flavorful.

Check every hour or so, and add water or broth if it cooks out, but it's okay for the liquid to reduce by half for an intense pot liquor to drizzle over finished Turkey Carnitas.

Rotate the meat a couple times during simmering so all sides evenly cook through.

Done when meat is fall-apart tender. Use a fork to see how easily turkey flakes off the bone.

Traditionally Carnitas are fine chopped and piled into flour or corn tortillas. When you remove turkey from the bone, look for some small fine bones and chewy cartilage to remove.

For serving, just take turkey pieces and chop them into small 1/4 inch pieces. You could also do the "pulled pork" method of using 2 forks to pull the tender chunks apart to shred.

You can drizzle on some of the "pot liquor" or broth if you are storing the Turkey Carnitas to serve later. Or if you are keeping it warm in the oven, make sure to drizzle on plenty, so cooked meat stays moist.

The above method is the easiest way to make Carnitas. This is the way I've seen it done by outdoor sidewalk vendors -- just a vat of pork, intestines, tongue and other parts, slow cooking for hours in the rendered fat and broth. And when you order, the cook just plucks out a hunk of meat and chops it into small pieces to pile on a warmed corn tortilla.

You can top Turkey Carnitas Tacos with my Pico de Gallo (recipe here,) or simply with chopped onion and cilantro. Go Americano with your favorite salsa, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheddar cheese.

For a Carnitas Burrito, add some of my Mom's Mexican Rice (recipe here) with a heated can of pinto beans, along with the above mentioned chopped veggies. If you have a favorite salsa then use that...and don't forget the hot sauce!

I've also had Turkey Carnitas with a crispy crust.

Roasting for Crispy Bits
This is a lean way. Just add the larger chunks of tender braised turkey to a roasting pan and bake about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. To keep the Turkey Carnitas extra moist add some of the broth to the roasting pan, just enough to barely cover the bottom. You just want to lightly brown some of the turkey pieces for crunch. Don't worry about all the small boiled bits, just add them to the larger roasted pieces and chop them up altogether.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Best Mushroom Cream Soup - Video Recipe

Fungus shouldn't taste this good. Cream and caramelized mushroom blend together perfectly. My rich and earthy Mushroom Cream Soup is meant to be shared on a cold wintry day.

I often find four ounce packages of brown crimini and portabella, along with regular white button mushrooms, at my local 99c only Stores, here in Los Angeles. Sorry to rub it in, but mushrooms are expensive, except in my Cheap$kate Chateau.

Click on any photo to see larger.

The rest of the ingredients are cheap enough. I saute onion along with the  mushrooms, and sweeten the soup with white wine and rich cream.

You can keep this recipe vegan by substituting cream with almond, cashue or soy milk. I'm not up on all the milk alternatives, so use what you like.

I add a couple cups of water to the soup, but you can use a favorite broth for an extra flavorful soup.

Can you keep it low calorie and leave out the rich cream? Heck yeah, it's just as tasty without cream.

But if you are feeling extravagant, and making this for a special occasion, like trying to impress, then go all the way...with extra cream!

Mushroom Cream Soup - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 3 minute 10 seconds

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (about 4-6 servings)
3 packages of mushrooms - I got 4 to 5 ounce packages of each: crimini, white button and portabella mushroom. Okay to use one type of mushroom, or any you can find on sale.
1 onion chopped - I used a cheap yellow onion.
1 cup white wine - optional. If you leave it out then just use broth or water instead.
1 cup heavy cream - okay to keep soup light and use low fat milk or a milk substitute. Even okay to leave out cream altogether.
2 cups water - or a favorite broth.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil - to saute onion and mushrooms.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Please note that I cooked this soup recipe in a large pot. If you use a standard smaller pot then cooking time for mushrooms may take longer than 5 minutes, more like 10 minutes. Mainly, just cook veggies until soft.

Chop one whole onion. Saute in pot with tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Cook and stir onions until soft, about 5 minutes.

Clean mushrooms if needed. (Wipe off dirt with a soft brush or napkin.)

For crimini or white button mushroom roughly slice. Okay to use pre-sliced mushrooms.

For larger portabella mushrooms whipe off any dirt. Once the portabella mushrooms are cleaned, slice them up. Doesn't matter how small the pieces, as they will end up in a blender or food processor.

Once onions are softened stir in the mushrooms. Cook them another 5 minutes until mushroom pieces are soft. May take longer to soften if you use a small pot - the more pan surface area the quicker everything cooks through.

Salt and pepper to taste any time during sauteing.

Mushrooms and onions will reduce in size considerably. Again if you use a small pot the mushroom may take 10 minutes to soften.

Pour in about a cup or white wine. 

Finally add 2 cups of water or a favorite broth. Mix liquid well. Bring soup up to a low simmer and cover the pot.

Simmer for about 15 minutes. You just want to finish cooking the mushrooms and onions until extra soft.

Now you are ready to finish up the Mushroom Cream Soup. Allow the soup to cool down so you can add it to a blender or food processor. Blending with hot liquid is asking for trouble. Let the soup cool down for at least 5 minutes.

Add soup to a blender and pulse/blend until smooth. It goes pretty quickly. I blended all my soup in about a minute. Okay to work in batches. I blended my soup in two batches.

Finally add blended soup to a pot. Stir in a cup of almond milk, whipping cream, or half and half. Okay to keep the soup light and add regular or low fat milk. You can use any favorite vegan milk substitute, since now all you are doing is a final soup warming up.

For an extra low calorie, and vegan, soup it's okay to leave out cream altogether.

Heat Mushroom Cream Soup until hot, about 15 minutes - that's it. I sometimes like to simmer the soup on low for half an hour or so, just to marry and deepen the flavors of onion and mushroom -- you know how it goes, soup and stew just get better over time. Add more liquid if necessary for any prolonged cooking.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Recipes

A cooked Thanksgiving turkey is the gift that keeps on giving. So keep reading to see a few of my recipes that will have you coming back for more succulent turkey leftovers. (And click on any recipe name to be directed to my blogpost with all the tasty recipe text and yummy photo illustrations.)

The easiest and quickest use of Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving leftovers is to just pile them between sliced bread or a crusty bread roll. I like mine with stuffing, cranberry sauce, warm gravy and turkey.

Click on any photo to see larger.

But to kick the sandwich up to an Ultimate Turkey Sandwich, just crisp up in the frying pan some of that uneaten soggy turkey skin.

It is a decadent and tasty addition to a classic Turkey Sandwich. Check out my recipe video below for a little culinary decadence.

A most popular leftover for the coldest days of winter is a warm and soothing Turkey Soup. I hope you saved the poultry carcass?

For the tastiest soup it's best to boil leftover roasted turkey bones and turkey bits in a pot of seasoned water. Once the water is simmering on low, just step away for an hour, and meanwhile do a little veggie and leftover turkey chopping to add with strained turkey broth.

My Turkey Soup recipe link here, is based on a typical Chicken Soup, so just substitute with cooked leftover turkey.

My Chicken Soup recipe starts with uncooked chicken, so this Turkey Soup spin-off will be done in less time -- just simmer long enough to tenderize the chopped carrot, onion and celery. This soup is easier with cooked turkey.

If you feel a bit more ambitious, then rustle up a Cajun classic Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but with leftover turkey instead of chicken.

My Mom lives in Louisiana and she sure knows how to do a Gumbo. This is another cold weather dish. Serve Mom's Turkey and Sausage Gumbo over rice. Again you can reduce the prep time because the leftover turkey is already cooked. And another shortcut is using a pre-made Gumbo base called a roux, that is often stocked in regular grocery stores.

Check out my video below for all the tasty details.

A pot pie is the most soothing of winter meals, and my Turkey Pot Pie made with Thanksgiving leftovers will have you returning for seconds and thirds!

For my simple recipe I used a grocery store frozen pie crust that covers the leftovers. And all you do is load up a deep baking dish like you would a lasagna - layering mashed potatoes or yams, veggies, stuffing, turkey and gravy.

My video below lays it on thick, that is, with plenty of delish leftovers.

You had Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving and didn't get enough of the sweet stuff? Well if you had an overabundance of baked or boiled sweet potato, then bake a Sweet Potato Pie! 

This Southern and Soul Food classic is really simple to do and my Mom has her Pumpkin Pie recipe that is easily made with cooked leftover sweet potatoes, and it's a click away right here.

I hope you had a great gathering of family and some friends for your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving. And do check back for more 99 cent cheap$kate deliciousness.

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