This year I have the honor of cooking for the Field to Table Dinner at the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers North American Rendezvous. There could be no better way for me to celebrate my first successful turkey hunt than to share my story and meat in one of my favorite tapas dishes.
For tender breast meat pieces, marinate the turkey in a blend of smoked paprika, garlic and sherry vinegar for a flavor reminiscent of Spain. Skewer the meat between slices of dates for a sweet and spicy combination.
Paprika is one of the most distinct and intensely aromatic spices. Different varieties range from sweet (dulce) to spicy (picante). Many artisanal farmers dry and smoke the chili pods to create smoked paprika, my favorite and my choice for this recipe.
If you want to replicate these delicious flavors and deep red colors, it’s essential that you use Spanish smoked paprika. You will find it in small tins labeled as pimentón, Spanish paprika, or just smoked paprika.
Spicy food isn’t typical in Spain, but I wanted to incorporate the local, wild chiles I have in my pantry. The spices add a little heat and sharp contrast to the caramelized dates and sweet carrots. If you don’t have dried chili pequin pods, you can substitute with red chili flakes.
I’ll be serving these turkey skewers with a silky smooth carrot and goat cheese purée. The gentle steaming of the carrots brings out their natural sweetness which pairs well with the tangy goat cheese. This purée is delicious enough to dip crusty bread or serve with a Crudités platter.
- 1.5 pounds or two turkey breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 tbsp. smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
- 1 tsp. chili flakes or 8 chili pequin pods, crushed
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 ½ tbsp. sherry vinegar, or substitute with red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp. avocado, canola or grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp. water
- 6-8 dates, sliced in half and pit removed
Carrot and Goat Cheese Puree
- 1 bundle of carrots
- ½ cup water
- 2 ½ ounces plain goat cheese
- 2 tbsp. cream
- Salt to taste
Also works with
- Cut the turkey into roughly 2-inch cubes. Place inside a large container or ziplock bag. In a small food processor or blender, purée the garlic, paprika, chili, salt, vinegar, water and oil until smooth. Pour as much as needed to coat the turkey. If you have enough, reserve a little to brush the meat at the end of cooking. Marinate the turkey for at least 4 hours and up to 24.
- Prepare the carrot and goat cheese puree while the turkey is marinating. Peel and slice the carrots into small coins. You should have about 10 to 12 ounces in weight. Add to a small pot with the water and cover with a lid. Set the heat to low and gently steam the carrots until they are very soft. This could take up to an hour.
- Transfer the steamed carrots to a blender, along with any liquids although most should have evaporated. Add the goat cheese and cream. Puree in the blender and add water or additional cream until it reaches a smooth, light consistency. Season to taste with a pinch or two of salt. This can be served warm or cold.
- If using wooden skewers over a grill, soak in water at least 30 minutes before cooking. Thread the turkey onto the skewers, weaving the dates in between.
- Preheat the grill over medium heat or heat a cast iron. Once hot, lay each skewer down and cook about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Close the lid of the grill or lay a piece of foil over the top while cooking. Flip and continue to cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, covered. The meat should be tender and just barely cooked all the way through, do not overcook it.
- Serve the skewers with the carrot and goat cheese puree.