Saturday, October 5, 2013

My Cooking Attempts: Turkey Lettuce Wraps

I wasn't always obsessed with cooking and trying new recipes. I mean I've always enjoyed cooking, but in the past 5 years I've come to really appreciate trying new recipes, ingredients, and foods. I blame this partly on the Food Network and partly on this recipe for turkey lettuce wraps.
A few years ago I tried, and was truly impressed, with P.F. Chang's chicken lettuce wraps. I liked them so much I scoured the internet for a good copycat recipe. It was a while before I found a recipe I liked. I then took that recipe and began to experiment with it.  I played with it until I found what, in my opinion, is the best combination and measurement of ingredients. 
Since then I've become slightly obsessed with taking recipes and modifying them to my own personal taste. Here is my take on turkey lettuce wraps. Please keep in mind it has been years since I've been to P.F. Chang's, so although this recipe began as a copy cat recipe, it's now become my own creation.

  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stocks, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup of sugar snap peas
  • (20 ounce) package ground turkey 
  • Note: When I want a higher meat to vegetable ration I've been known to use as much as 2 lbs of ground turkey with this exact recipe. The results are just as wonderful, if a little more meaty. So feel free to adjust to your preference.
  • 8 ounces chopped mushrooms
  • (8 ounce) cans water chestnuts, drained and sliced
  • garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced. 
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions 
  • head butter or iceberg lettuce
  • Toppings
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Slivered almonds or crispy chow mein noodles

  • Dice celery and carrots. Cook with 1/2 cup water in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat, stirring until the veggies soften and the water has evaporated. Remove from skillet and set aside. 

  • Meanwhile, boil a pot of water. When water is boiling add the sugar snap peas. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Blanche in ice cold water so they stop cooking and retain their color and "snap."

  • Heat pot. Yes, I said pot. Trust me, if you use anything smaller you will run out of room! Spray with nonstick spray (I find turkey sticks very easily).  Medium heat, add turkey. You could add a little EVOO, if you find your turkey is sticking more than you'd like. Stir periodically as it cooks. 

  • Meanwhile prepare your other veggies. Chop your mushrooms and water chestnuts. I buy sliced water chestnuts. They cost the same as whole water chestnuts and it saves a little time and effort. I don't take the time to dice them any smaller, though I can see where one might argue for a smaller dice. I LOVE water chestnuts so it doesn't bother me to get a big ol' piece when I bite into my lettuce wrap. Slice or dice with prejudice! ;)

  • Slice the sugar snap peas diagonally, into thirds. Mince your garlic and ginger. 

  • When the turkey crumbles and is no longer pink add the garlic and ginger. Allow to cook for a few minutes. Next add the veggies (carrots, celery, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and sugar snap peas). Mix to incorporate. 

Now add all the flavorings: Teriyaki sauce, peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. Mix well. 

  • Cook to incorporate the flavors, 4-5 minutes should do it. Fold in the green onions. Remove them heat.  
  • You are now ready to serve. Spoon mixture onto lettuce leaves. Any lettuce will do, however I prefer the way butter lettuce looks and the way iceberg lettuce tastes. I usually use one of those two options.
  • Dip or top with a squirt of hoisin sauce and slivered almonds or crispy chow mein noodles

  • Note: If you use the almonds be sure to toast them for a more developed flavor. Heat a dry pan to medium heat. Add almonds, spread evenly.  Shake pan frequently, to prevent burning. It won't take long, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. 

  • You are now ready to eat!

  • I love this recipe. When I don't know what to make for dinner or what to take to a potluck this is my go to recipe. It easy, delicious, and makes a beautiful presentation. Hopefully, once you've tried the recipe, you will feel the same and add it to your list of "go-to" dinner recipes. 
  • Note: In the past I have also added bamboo shoots and bean sprouts to the mix. Add them if you'd like. 

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