Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Ropa Vieja

This variation on the popular Spanish or Cuban dish called Ropa Vieja uses turkey breast meat in place of the traditional beef.  Using turkey gives this dish a very different flair.  I chose to use turkey breast meat, but if you prefer dark turkey meat, turkey thighs or legs can also be used.

Ropa Vieja uses a slow braising process to soften the meat in a onion garlic tomato based sauce. Oregano, cumin, bay leaves, capers and green olives are also included to flavor the dish.  Once the meat is braised to a fork tender texture, it is shredded and returned into the sauce for another quick simmer which flavors the meat inside and out.  This is also one of those dishes that taste even better the next day.

Turkey Ropa Vieja also makes a nice option for what to do with your left over Thanksgiving turkey.   Simply skip the browning process of the meat and place the roasted left over turkey meat in the sauce to braise and soften to a fork tender texture.

I recommend trying this dish with Spanish Rice on the side.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Special Tools: Large Dutch Oven or Cast Iron Pot


4 Strips Bacon
1 Chorizo Del Bilbao cut into quarters lengthwise then cut into 1/4 inch strips
2-3 lb. Half Turkey Breast
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion chopped
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Cumin
3 Garlic Cloves minced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper cut into strips
1/2 Red Bell Pepper cut into strips
2 Serrano Peppers chopped (optional)
16 oz Canned Diced Tomatoes
1 Cup Sherry
4 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoon Capers
12 Green Olives with Pimiento sliced
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Cup Cilantro chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (make sure one of the oven racks is low enough to accommodate your dutch oven or cast iron pot). In a large dutch oven or cast iron pot, place the bacon over high heat to render the fat. Cook until crisp (about 4 minutes) then remove the bacon strips and save for another occasion.  Add the Chorizo Del Bilbao and cook for about 2 minutes and set aside.  Add the turkey breast and brown the meat on all sides (about 8 minutes). Remove the turkey and set aside.

Add the olive oil to the pot and heat until it shimmers. Pour in the chopped onions and stir fry until the onions are soft and translucent (about 4 minutes).  Stir in the oregano and cumin until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the garlic, green bell peppers, red bell peppers and Serrano peppers to the pot and stir fry for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and stir fry for another 2 minutes.  Pour in the Sherry, chicken broth, bay leaves and capers and give the ingredients a good stir.  Return the Chorizo Del Bilbao and turkey breast to the pot.  Cover and bring the ingredients to a boil.  Transfer the dutch oven or cast iron pot to the oven and let cook for 40 minutes or until the turkey breast is fork tender.

Remove the pot from the oven and carefully transfer the turkey breast to a large chopping board.  Shred the meat off the bone using a strong fork.  Discard the breast bone and return the shredded turkey meat to the pot.  Add the olives and season with salt and pepper.   Stir the ingredients, cover the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Garnish with chopped cilantro, serve and enjoy.

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