Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Copycat Recipe of Panera Bread's Turkey Chili

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So recently my husband and I were out running errands and popped into Panera Bread for a quick lunch.  I like that I can get fresh and healthy menu items there, complete with nutritional information and smaller half portions.  I find this to be a constant battle because let's face it, eating healthy when you are out and about can be challenging.  On this particular day I tried the turkey chili and I have to tell you that I was super impressed!  It was super flavorful, had the right amount of heat and seasonings and lots of textural goodies in there - always a bonus for me.  After finding myself running through the Panera Bread drive-through after my exercise class a couple more times for a cup of this turkey chili, I figured I'd better just get on with the process of making my own.  

As with any chili, the process is a basic brown and dump, stir and wait.  Nothing complicated.  Just as a bonus, going the turkey route makes your basic chili recipe healthier by lowering the fat.  There are some carbs in here due to the beans and corn, but remember, beans are low on the glycemic index  (GI) (less than 55) and have a lot of fiber.  They won't affect your blood sugar the same way a medium or high GI food would.  According to the Panera Bread website, 1 cup has 170cal, 8g fat (1.5g sat fat), 21g carbs, 10g fiber, 4g sugar, 11g protein.   Of course I don't claim to know their exact recipe, but I think this is a pretty close approximation.   Next time you get in the mood for a big bowl of chili, but don't want to ruin your diet, give this one a shot!  This clean eating recipe is  also gluten free if that is something you are concerned about.  


Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
    menumusings.com
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (93/7)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped small
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small matchsticks
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 (4oz) can chopped green chiles 
  • 1 (28oz) can petite diced canned tomatoes 
  • 1 (6oz) can tomato paste 
  • 1 box (32oz) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 (16oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 (16oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup corn (drain if canned)
  • 2/3 cup shelled frozen edamame 
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • Juice of 1 large lime (probably just under 1/4 cup for a large lime)
  • 1 cup tortilla strips

Step-by-Step:
Step 1 - Turkey.  Brown the turkey in the EVOO in a heavy pot or dutch oven, crumbling as it cooks; but leave it chunky enough to look like chili.  Turkey is so soft that if you aren't careful, it can completely break up so much that it will look like sand.  
1 Tbsp EVOO
2 pounds (93/7) ground turkey
Step 2 - Mirepoix.  When the turkey is about two thirds of the way brown, add the mirepoix (chopped onions, celery and carrots).  Saute the vegetables on medium heat for about ten minutes until they are soft. 
2 medium onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small matchsticks
Allow to cook down until vegetables are soft, about ten minutes, on medium heat.
Step 3 - Seasoning.  Basically, just dump all the seasonings in there.  
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (use less if using regular table salt)
2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning 
2 tsp garlic powder
The whole time you are adding the seasoning allows the mirepoix to continue to cook.  By this time, you kitchen should be starting to smell pretty darned good!
Step 4 - Flavor Base.  Now that the meat is flavorful and the vegetables are soft, add in the liquids and thickeners.  These are the things that deepen the flavor.
1 (4oz) can chopped green chiles 
1 (28oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 (32oz) box stock of your choice - chicken or vegetable 
Step 5 - Textural Elements.  These are healthy, colorful, textural components that also add a ton of fiber and vitamins and "goodness" to the pot.  

1 (16oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (may also be labeled garbanzo beans)
2/3 cup corn (drained)
2/3 cup shelled edamame (will probably find them frozen)
Now it's getting really pretty, right?  šŸ˜Š  If you are really concerned about carbs, you can modify as needed and omit the corn, but split into eight servings, you are only getting around 0.75oz corn which has a very low carb count.  The chickpeas have a texture similar to potatoes in this chili recipe.
Step 6 - The Finishing Touches.   Bring out those amazing Tex-Mex flavors with fresh cilantro and a big dose of acidity from the lime juice to brighten it all up.    
1/2 cup chopped cilantro 
Juice of 1 large lime
**Many of the recipe criticisms for Panera Bread's turkey chili recipe were along the lines of "It's too soupy" or "I couldn't get mine to thicken up." So... I sought to rectify that here.  Many Southwestern-inspired chiles are thickened with masa harina (corn flour) or in some instances corn meal or polenta.  They absorb and help thicken the liquid after about ten minutes of simmering.  I'm taking an easy shortcut and adding these tortilla strips to my pot of chili.  They will completely disappear in the chili, help thicken it, and then I can also use them as a great crunchy garnish on top.  

1 cup tortilla strips
The tortilla strips will all just go away like magic after several minutes.
Serve plain or with your favorite garnishes!  My kids love when I make cornbread muffins as an accompaniment to chili.  
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Bonus Recipes - 
Decadent Chocolate Truffles  - Because you never know when you need to whip up a sweet treat for a party or holiday gathering!  So easy.
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Crab and Brie Soup - Perhaps the ultimate decadent dinner party soup.
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Pan Seared Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce - Fancy enough for guests, quick and easy enough for a fabulous weeknight meal.
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Easy Beef Lo Mein - Sometimes staying IN for Chinese is more fun than going out, especially when it's this easy.
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Easy Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake - When you need to feed an army of people (like your college kids home for the holidays with their friends) on a small budget.
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The Menu Musings Cookbook makes a fantastic holiday gift!
Click HERE to find out more about the cookbook, the cool QRS features it has for each recipe that bring readers back to the blog, etc.  It's the only hardcopy interactive cookbook on the market!
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Written Method:
menumusings.com
Step 1 - Turkey.  Brown the turkey in the EVOO in a heavy pot or dutch oven, crumbling as it cooks; but leave it chunky enough to look like chili.  Turkey is so soft that if you aren't careful, it can completely break up so much that it will look like sand.
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (93/7)
Step 2 - Mirepoix.  When the turkey is about two thirds of the way brown, add the mirepoix (chopped onions, celery and carrots).  Saute the vegetables on medium heat for about ten minutes until they are soft. 
  • 2 medium onions, chopped small
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small matchsticks
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped fine
Step 3 - Seasoning.  Basically, just dump all the seasonings in there.  
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp garlic powder 
Step 4 - Flavor Base.  Now that the meat is flavorful and the vegetables are soft, add in the liquids and thickeners.  These are the things that deepen the flavor.
  • 1 (4oz) can chopped green chiles 
  • 1 (28oz) can petite diced canned tomatoes 
  • 1 (6oz) can tomato paste 
  • 1 (32oz) box chicken or vegetable stock
Step 5 - Textural Elements.  These are healthy, colorful, textural components that also add a ton of fiber and vitamins and "goodness" to the pot.  

  • 1 (16oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 (16oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup corn (drain if canned)
  • 2/3 cup shelled frozen edamame 
Step 6 - The Finishing Touches.   Bring out those amazing Tex-Mex flavors with fresh cilantro and a big dose of acidity from the lime juice to brighten it all up.    The tortilla strips will disappear after about ten minutes and act as a thickener.
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • Juice of 1 large lime (probably just under 1/4 cup for a large lime)
  • 1 cup tortilla strips
Serve plain or with your favorite garnishes!  I suggest cornbread muffins as an accompaniment.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) Tacos

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Carnitas, literally meaning "little meats," is a dish of Mexican cuisine originating from the state of MichoacĆ”n.  Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich "boston butt" or "picnic ham" cuts of pork. The whole roast is typically cut down to a workable size and seasoned heavily before slow braising or deep frying.  Traditional carnitas are made by a process of simmering the meat in lard in a heavy bottomed pot until tender over a very low heat. Once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. At this stage, the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver. The meat can then be used as an ingredient in tamales, tacos, tortas, and burritos.  

I don't know about y'all, but I'm a little past the age where I can comfortably look at a recipe that simmers my meat in lard without making "that face" that means "Oh God, how long would I need to workout after eating THAT?!"  Soooo.... let's take this awesome carnitas recipe and give it a healthy makeover.  And while we're at it, who has time to stand over an outdoor pot simmering a long-cooking recipe?  What if you could put this on in the morning before you leave for work and finish it up when you walk in?  Yep.  Let's try that direction.   This would also totally work for your #mealprep if you are in a group because you could pull some and freeze some.  The recipe is #glutenfree if you use a gluten free soy sauce.  


Ingredients:  Serves 8-10 
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  • 4 pound pork shoulder 
    • may be called pork butt, trimmed of excess fat
    • I buy the bone-in pork shoulder because it's less expensive and I think more flavorful 
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
    • ~ 1 large lime 
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion rough chopped
  • 1 jalapeƱo pepper 
    • cut large so you can pull it out later for mild heat
    • or
    • chopped fine for more heat

Wet Spice Rub
  • 3 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder for more smoky heat
    • or  sub 1 tsp mild chili powder for milder heat
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked or spanish paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Step-by-Step:
For the bargain price of $1.00/lb, you really can't beat this price for a quality protein!  Most "slow cooking" proteins are less expensive. You cook them low and slow and allow time to do the work of breaking down the collagenous fibers for you, and then the meat just literally falls apart.  As a bonus, look how much money I saved by using my WinnDixie card!  Haha!  practically half off.  That's 4 pounds of meat for the price of a drive through meal! 
4 pound bone-in pork shoulder
The disadvantage of the slow cooker is that you don't get that good sear on a piece of meat, so let's do that real quick first on the stovetop.   Heat 1 Tbsp EVOO over high heat in a large, heavy bottom skillet.  Sear the pork on all sides until beautifully browned.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board until it is cool enough to handle.
1 Tbsp EVOO
4 pounds pork shoulder
While the pork is searing (it does take a few minutes), let's throw together the "wet rub."  Just throw all the seasoning together and mix.
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (smokier and spicier)
(or mild chili powder - mild)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Spanish paprika (or smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
(available in regular, reduced sodium, and gluten free versions)
2 Tbsp tomato paste 
3 Tbsp EVOO
When the pork is cool enough to handle, you can put it in the slow cooker and rub the wet rub all over the surface of the pork.  (I felt it was easier to show these steps while it was NOT in the slow cooker.)

Seared pork with the wet rub.
Add the orange juice, lime juice, liquid smoke, bay leaves, onions and jalapeƱos to the slow cooker.
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 large lime)
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 bay leaves
1 onion, rough chopped
1 jalapeƱo pepper
- seeded and rough chopped so you can pull it out later (mild heat)
or
- finely chopped (more heat)
And we are ready, set, GO!  Set your cooker on LOW for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 5-6 hours.  Personally, I like my pork to be literally falling apart, so I'm going for 6 every time, I can't lie.  At this point, the pork should be falling off of the bone and should shred easily with two forks.  
After 6 hours on high.
At this point you can either put the pork in the fridge to finish later (or freeze it), or continue.  If you are continuing with the shredded pork, preheat your oven to 450F.  Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Remove the shredded pork from the slow cooker and spread onto the lined baking sheets with as much of the juice as you'd like.  Bake at 450F until meat is desired amount of crispiness with "burnt" edges.  They really aren't burnt, but my family really does love that crispy, caramelized edge that resembles what you might have on an open pit.  You may need to move them around with a spatula.  This may take anywhere from 15minutes (straight from the hot slow cooker) to 30 minutes (if you put the carnitas in the refrigerator).  
Coming out of the oven with "burnt" and crispy edges.  Mmmmm!
Serve your "burnt edge" carnitas as taco filling with tortillas,  as a Mexican salad, on nachos for game day, in burritos, on brown or cauliflower rice for a low carb  meal prep... the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!  

The Pork Carnitas Tacos pictured below are served with low carb whole wheat tortillas (4 net grams carbs each) (Mission CarbBalance brand), tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, jalapeƱos, Cacique queso fresco, Cacique crema Mexicana, Herdez guacamole salsa.
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Pork Carnita Tacos
*Not sponsored by any of the above brands.  I just put the brand names on there to be helpful.  :) 

To order the Menu Musings Cookbook - 
Yes, the holidays are right around the corner!  This would be a fantastic gift for someone you love! 
Click HERE to check it out!  This page will give you more information about it. 

Bonus Recipes -
Left Over Pot Roast Pot Pies - What to do when you have leftover pot roast!  Mmmm.
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Oreo Heath Bar Cake - Irresistible!  Festive and super easy! 
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Chicken Piccata with Sun Dried Tomatoes - Have Italian night YOUR way at home.  Quick and easy!
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Spicy Fried Cauliflower Bites - A fun and unexpected appetizer or simple side.  
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Mardi Gras Pasta - super easy, kid friendly, sneaks in veggies, and pasta stretches the budget!  
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Written Method -
The disadvantage of the slow cooker is that you don't get that good sear on a piece of meat, so let's do that real quick first on the stovetop.   Heat 1 Tbsp EVOO over high heat in a large, heavy bottom skillet.  Sear the pork on all sides until beautifully browned.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board until it is cool enough to handle.

While the pork is searing (it does take a few minutes), let's throw together the "wet rub."  Just throw all the seasoning together and mix.  When the pork is cool enough to handle, you can put it in the slow cooker and rub the wet rub all over the surface of the pork.  

Add the orange juice, lime juice, liquid smoke, bay leaves, onions and jalapeƱos to the slow cooker.  And we are ready, set, GO!  Set your cooker on LOW for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 5-6 hours.  Personally, I like my pork to be literally falling apart, so I'm going for 6 every time, I can't lie.  At this point, the pork should be falling off of the bone and should shred easily with two forks.  

At this point you can either put the pork in the fridge to finish later (or freeze it), or continue.  If you are continuing with the shredded pork, preheat your oven to 450F.  Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Remove the shredded pork from the slow cooker and spread onto the lined baking sheets with as much of the juice as you'd like.  Bake at 450F until meat is desired amount of crispiness with "burnt" edges.  They really aren't burnt, but my family really does love that crispy, caramelized edge that resembles what you might have on an open pit.  You may need to move them around with a spatula.  This may take anywhere from 15minutes (straight from the hot slow cooker) to 30 minutes (if you put the carnitas in the refrigerator).  

Serve your "burnt edge" carnitas as taco filling with tortillas,  as a Mexican salad, on nachos for game day, in burritos, on brown or cauliflower rice for a low carb  meal prep... the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!  

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