Thursday, December 4, 2014

On Leftovers, Cooking for Two, and a Recipe

This week I have been actively committed to using up the massive amounts of Thanksgiving leftovers that took up residency in our fridge last Thursday evening. Considering we made enough food to feed at least six people, maybe even eight, that has proved quite the task. I've nuked plates of Turkey Day fixins' and gobbled 'em up as is for breakfast and lunch, but we've also remixed the leftovers into new recipes for dinner. I love leftovers, I do, but they are definitely starting to lose their luster.

First, since I had an extra frozen pie crust, I made Giada's Thankful Shepherd's Pie (subbing out whole milk for heavy cream, glazed carrots for fresh, and frozen peas and corn for celery). The recipe helped use up most of our mashed potatoes and gravy. Next, inspired by a Rachael Ray recipe, I winged my own version of a crustless, sweet potato-topped shepherd's pie, with green bean casserole as the base.

Both of these casseroles were good (the first better than the second), but they tasted just like Thanksgiving. In other words: a bit boring.

So the other day I turned to our new favorite cookbook for a recipe that required turkey but didn't mimic the flavors of our recent holiday feast, and found this: Turkey Chili! 

For his birthday two months ago, I ransacked Crate & Barrel and, among other things, got G a hefty (read: manly) 12-inch Lodge cast iron skillet along with "One Pan, Two Plates: More Than 70 Complete Weeknight Meals for Two" by Carla Snyder, and it has quickly become one of our go-to cookbooks. Besides the wonderful and varied gourmet recipes housed within, the beauty of this book is three-fold (and obvious by its title): each recipe is made in one pan/skillet, is the perfect amount for two people and, as such, leaves no (or very little) leftovers.

"One Pan, Two Plates" is perfect for couples and newlyweds, like G and I, but also roommates and empty nesters. No need for mathematics to cut recipes in half or thirds, or to dirty a bunch of pots and pans in the pursuit of dinner.

We absolutely loved (and devoured every last drop of) the turkey chili so I thought I'd share the recipe with you here. We lucked out and had most of the ingredients on hand. If you've succeeded in using up all your leftover turkey, don't fret, just pick up a package of ground turkey at the grocery store as the recipe suggests.

Turkey Chili with Poblano and Queso Fresco
Recipe from One Pan, Two Plates | Cook time: 20 minutes, Total time: 25 minutes | Serves 2

1 cup canned cannellini beans
1 tsp. ground cumin
Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder, plus more if needed
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 large poblano chile, seeded, deribbed and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground turkey
1 1/4 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed
Kernels from 1 ear corn or about 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 tbsp. sour cream (and more for topping, if you're like me)
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or farmer's cheese (shredded Cheddar works, too) *note: we didn't use queso fresco since I'm not a big cheese fan
1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro (we used parsley since it's what we already had on hand)

1. Drain the cannellini beans, rinse well and drain again. Put the beans in a bowl and mash lightly with the back of a fork. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves and season with black pepper. Set the spice mixture aside.

2. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and poblano and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, spice mixture and turkey and cook, breaking up the turkey meat with a spoon, until the turkey is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and mashed cannellini beans and stir to mix thoroughly; the beans will thicken the chili. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the chili for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. If the pan gets dry, add a little more broth or water.

3. Stir in the corn and sour cream. Taste the chili and add more salt, pepper or chili powder if it needs it. If you like corn on the crunchy al dente side, remove the chili from the heat now, but if you like your corn soft, continue to simmer it for another minute or two.

4. Ladle the chili into shallow, warmed bowls and top with the queso fresco and cilantro. (I put an extra large dollop of sour cream on mine.) Serve hot.

Optional, if you're extra hungry: Serve with your favorite tortilla chips. Great crumbled on top or when used to scoop up the chili.

Every recipe in "One Pan, Two Plates" includes a wine pairing, which may be the other reason I love the cookbook so much. Here's the recommendation for the turkey chili:
There are a few directions you could go when pairing wine with this dish. There's Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages if you want to go red, and for the white lovers, a Chablis from the same producer would do just as well. Then there's always the classic beer and chili one-two.
Personally, we had an open bottle of Pinot Grigio in the fridge so we made do. The chili is spicy (but not overwhelmingly hot) so something light and refreshing, whether it be wine or beer, seems like a good choice to me.

The hubs and I look forward to cooking many more "One Pan" meals. This white chili was our fifth foray. Previously we had made the cover dish (above), Flank Steak with Chimichurri and Summer Squash Hash (the chimichurri was divine; I wished there was more!), Jambalaya with Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille Sausage (below), and Flash-Roasted Tilapia with New Potatoes, Peas and Pesto Mayonnaise. Also, G took inspiration from the cookbook's three frittata recipes one morning and whipped up a one-pan breakfast.

If you're part of a twosome and looking for a new cookbook, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy. Available online now at Barnes & Noble and Crate & Barrel (temporarily out of stock at Amazon).

Next, I'm thinking we should try the Prosciutto-Wrapped Salmon with Corn and Poblano Succotash (pictured below). Yum.

(Top image via The Kitchn, bottom image via Cleveland)

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