Many of us have “go-to” cooking options in our establishments and homes that we can make with our eyes closed. They will satisfy our customers and family every single time, which is why we keep them around for so long. While those are great, they may get a bit tiresome after a while. More importantly, they could be packed full of fat and unwarranted calories. Pork chops, steaks, bacon, and sausage are all delicious, but they could keep us from reaching our health goals. Though all those meal centerpieces aren’t particularly lean, they can still be used in our cuisine from time to time.
I’ve learned to bypass many fatty proteins as much as possible when putting together a delicious dinner or weekend lunch. While it can be difficult from time to time, I’ve found a versatile option that I love cooking with a couple times a week: ground turkey. It doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but it is delicious, fairly healthy, and can be used in a variety of dishes as replacements or in original meal ideas. It can also be a great way to introduce your customers to a healthier alternative in your cuisine. More customers are looking for diet friendly options when they dine out. A dish consisting of ground turkey could be the answer to their healthier requests. There are many reasons to incorporate ground turkey into your cooking. Here are a few things to consider when conducting your food ordering or grocery shopping.
Regular ground turkey is about 85% in leanness and contains some dark meat. The leaner it is, the healthier it is, of course. As is turns out, beef or pork with a 90% lean rate is lower in fat than any turkey under 90%, so spend the little extra if you can. While the price of ground turkey may be more expensive than ground beef or pork, it really depends on what quality it is, where you buy it from, and when you buy it. Check your local grocery store’s flyers periodically for deals on ground turkey breast. It happens more frequently than you might imagine. Organic ground turkey options are preferred, as they do not implement any antibiotics found in many conventional ground turkey packages. No matter which sort of ground turkey you choose to purchase, you will be receiving a substantial amount of protein. Protein increases strength and helps build muscles and bones, which will certainly help in your goal of being a healthier you.
Cooking with turkey is pretty simple. I am a novice home cook, but I’ve made several attempts to become better and stretch out my range in the kitchen. Turkey has helped a lot with that. In addition to the fact that it is lean and high in protein, it is also easy to judge when it is completely cooked with the naked eye. Whether you bake it, sauté it, or pan fry it, it is fairly simple to identify when it is ready for serving. In its raw form, it is lighter in color than raw beef and pork, and when it is cooked, it turns a golden brown. It’s almost like baking bread or cookies. You know when you know. As with all other meats, to help ensure it is cooked to perfection, simply cut in the middle and take a look at it. If you have a thermometer, check the turkey to make sure it is at 165ºF, which is the safe serving temperature. That is always the best way to make sure it is prepared properly. A seasoned restaurant cook will have no problem cooking with ground turkey and will perfect it over time.
As I mention previously, ground turkey is versatile. I use it in many conventional meals. While it may seem as if it’s just a substitution, it can often be the star of a new meal as well. Since it is less fatty, it doesn’t stick together as well as beef or pork. I suggest using bread crumbs when applicable. It adds some great taste and substantiates the turkey a little more. I also tend to add a lot of garlic as well. To me, garlic goes well with any dish, and its zest brings out the clean and lean flavor of turkey. Ground turkey works great in pasta with either tomato or Alfredo sauces and it is great for tacos. It absorbs the taco seasoning well and can be doctored to your liking. Turkey burgers have become a popular option for restaurants and home cooks during the past few years, and it’s easy to see why: they are delicious and can be customized easily.
While you can buy frozen turkey burgers at the store, they are typically lower in fat and more flavorful when you prepare the patties yourself. I load mine with onions and bread crumbs, to again, help it stick together. I’ve also just ventured into a turkey variation of an old favorite in meatloaf. I was pleased with the outcome of that as well. It provides you with the heartiness you’ve come to expect with meatloaf but with a more refreshing taste. I’ve never been a big fan of chili, but I’ve come to love it when it is prepared with turkey. Another great option for ground turkey is a casserole. My variation has a lot of cheese and potatoes. These items are easy to make and provide your customers with new, healthier dining options. That will surely excite them.
Turkey isn’t for everyone. Many people have poultry allergies or just aren’t a fan of the taste at all. But many customers and family members are looking for delicious ways to keep up with their diets. You’d be surprised at the options it provides for your meals in your establishment and home. In some cases, it can mimic beef, pork, or chicken and in many others, it is the centerpiece to the meal. Do your research if you’re not too familiar with cooking turkey and don’t be afraid to experiment. It is how I’ve come to love cooking with ground turkey. If you need more inspiration, look for our upcoming ground turkey recipe blog.