ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Whenever I post a recipe using ground beef I get a slew of comments like: “Can I use ground turkey instead of beef” or “Ground turkey would be healthier than ground beef.”
Maybe it is because most of my readers have diabetes and are more conscious about the health consequences of what they eat.
The opposite is also true. When I do a recipe for ground turkey I hear: “Ground turkey is not ground beef. It doesn’t taste like beef.”
It is true. Ground turkey is NOT ground beef just as turkey is NOT beef. They don’t taste the same.
For the most part ground turkey has less saturated fat than ground beef. This may be healthier for you in the long run. But do you have to give up flavor?
A turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich is just as delicious as a roast beef and Swiss cheese sandwich. They are two totally different things equally as good for what they are; not intended as a substitution one for the other. Rather than thinking of them as alternative choices, think of them as two more possibilities for your table.
It is the same with ground turkey or ground beef. They can “almost” be used interchangeably. Ground turkey has milder flavor than the beef. This is a great opportunity to use your seasoning skills to make a new and interesting dish. Spicy turkey meatballs really give your seasoning skills a chance to shine. Don’t only think of them with pasta; they are a terrific way of making a simple soup into a hearty main meal.
Ground turkey is a delicious, possibly healthier, alternative to ground beef in an Untidy Tom. If you use beef all you get is a Sloppy Joe.
Eggplant stuffed with well-flavored ground turkey allows the taste and texture of the eggplant to be more of a star in the dish.
The only place where I don’t like to use ground turkey instead of ground beef is in a pasta sauce.
Add to the variety on your plate. Experiment with using both either alone, or even better, in combination.
Chef Ward Alper retired to Albuquerque after being a professional chef in Boston and New York City. He blogs as “The Decadent Diabetic: Taking Back My Life and Table,” thedecadentdiabetic.com.
Net carbohydrates: 20 grams including the “bun”
1 medium onion (sweet if possible), sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ pound lean ground turkey
2 cloves garlic grated
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup chicken stock
4 teaspoons granulated sugar substitute (or equivalent)
Salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce (start with 2-3 drops and increase as you like the heat)
Over medium high heat, cook the onions until lightly browned. Add the ground turkey and cook until well browned. If there is a lot of liquid, spoon out as much as you can before proceeding.
Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add ALL the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Taste to adjust the amount of Tabasco sauce in the recipe.
Cook over high heat to boil away excess liquid. Spoon onto your lower carbohydrate “bun” (sandwich thins or low-carb pita bread work like a charm).
TURKEY STUFFED EGGPLANT PARMESAN
Net carbohydrates: 10 grams
2 small eggplants
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 ounces lean turkey or chicken sausage
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons diced tomatoes or 4 chopped sundried tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste (and your doctor’s advice)
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices mozzarella cheese
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out about ¼ of the flesh. Salt and turn upside down to drain. Combine all the remaining ingredients except the mozzarella cheese and shape into 4 equal sized portions.
Rinse and dry the eggplants and then stuff with the turkey mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Top with the mozzarella cheese and bake five minutes more.
SPICY ITALIAN STYLE BAKED TURKEY MEATBALLS
Makes approximately 24 small balls
Net carbohydrates: less than 1 gram per ball
20 ounces ground lean turkey (or beef or a combination)
1 small onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano (dry)
1 teaspoon fresh basil
2 teaspoons parsley (fresh)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more)
Salt & pepper to taste and your doctor’s advice
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Combine all the ingredients except the turkey (beef) in a bowl. Add ground meat and combine.
Reduce heat to 400 degrees. Bake on an oiled sheet pan for 10 minutes. Turn baking pan to insure all the balls brown evenly and bake for 10 minutes more.
Can be refrigerated for a day or frozen for six months.