Substitute beef with ground turkey

Q: Can you suggest seasonings for ground turkey loaf? I’m trying to use more ground turkey in my cooking to lower my fat intake.

A: Before you toss that package of fresh ground turkey into your shopping cart, read the label — plain ground turkey can have just as much fat as a package of ground beef. What you want is ground turkey breast — the leanest ground meat in the meat case. It is an excellent low-fat, protein-packed choice when your recipe calls for hamburger or ground beef.

Because ground turkey breast is extremely lean, it requires care while cooking. Be sure to cook ground turkey breast completely, but do not overcook — with so little fat it can dry out quickly. Cook ground turkey breast until all the red meat turns white, plus an additional three minutes to guarantee doneness.

My favorite seasoning for turkey is fresh sage. Fresh sage is a perennial herb, which means it keeps coming back year after year after a winter nap. I pick the tender, new leaves at the end of each branch. Wash the leaves in cold water and dry them with a paper towel. Remove the leaves from the stalk and stack them on top of each other. Then cut thin slices through the stack of leaves with a sharp knife. You should have a good pile of fresh sage slivers. Toss the sliced sage with ground turkey breast before cooking. A bonus to using fresh herbs: The sage aromatics will remind you of the way grandma used to scent the kitchen air every Thanksgiving!

Here is a quick and healthy recipe for flavoring ground turkey breast with chunky salsa and other convenient ingredients:

Picadillo With Rice And Black Beans

This recipe is a fantastic weeknight dinner, but Karen and I have used it for entertaining when prep time is short. I like to use Craisins (dried cranberries) and a green Granny Smith apple.

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 jar (20 oz) thick and chunky salsa or mild picante
  • 1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
  • 1 cup 10-minute brown rice
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 12 stuffed Spanish olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup raisins or Craisins
  • 1 ounce slivered almonds (optional)

Brown ground turkey breast in a large no-stick skillet over medium heat.

Meanwhile, combine water, 1 cup salsa and black beans in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add brown rice. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 10 minutes and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, add remaining salsa (1 1/4 cup), apple, olives and raisins to cooked meat. Cover and cook 5 minutes.

Serve picadillo with rice on side. Garnish with slivered almonds. Serves 4.

Per Serving: Cal. 376, Fat 4.6 g (11% of cal), Fiber 9.5 g., Chol. 72 mg., Sod. 1075 mg., Pro. 38.6 g. Also a good source of Niacin and B12.

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