Sunday, August 16, 2015

Turkish Style Turkey Kebabs

It seems somewhat of a paradox ... the cuisine of the country called Turkey does not have any recipes for the animal, turkey.  This paradox has its root in history.   The country occupies a peninsula known as Anatolia, and, the people who lived there have been referred to as Turks since as early as the 1300s.  The Turks lived in a rather strategic place, situated at the cross-roads of commerce.

At one end, there were the British.  They began to import a bird known by scientists as Numida meleagris, or the helmeted guinea fowl.  While the birds originated from Madagascar, it was Turkish merchants who sold the birds to the British.  After a while, the British referred to the merchants as "Turkey merchants," and then referred to the birds themselves as "turkeys."  Mark Forsyth, The Turkey's Turkey, New York Times (11/27/13). 

A couple centuries later, Spanish explorers encountered strange birds in the New World.  These birds, known to scientists as Melagris pellolavo, were soon exported to the Old World, including the British Isles.  Although this bird differed from the helmeted guinea fowl, the distinctions were lost upon the Europeans, who thought the bird tasted as good, if not better than the turkeys from the Turkey merchants.  Thus, they gave the New World bird the same name as the Old World bird, "turkey." 

This brings be back to the paradox.  The country, Turkey, has a cuisine that is rather devoid of any turkey recipes.  I now offer up my contribution, in some respect, with a recipe for Turkish Style Turkey Kebabs.  Turkish cuisine is renowned for its kebabs, and, there is no shortage of recipes for Turkish kebabs on the internet.  For this turkey kebab, I poured over many different recipes to find ingredients that would work well together.  In the end, I settled on a recipe that featured cumin, coriander, nutmeg and red pepper.   These flavors worked very well as a rub and, more importantly, it did not require any marinating for hours or overnight.

This was a very good recipe and it could work very well with other meats, most notably chicken.  If I happen to come across any helmeted guinea fowl, a/k/a the original turkeys, then I might just try this recipe to cook that bird.

Recipe adapted from Today's Parent
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless turkey thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Bamboo skewers
1 tablespoon of olive oil

1.  Prepare the skewers.  Mix the ground cumin, coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper together.  Brush the cubes with some olive oil and then sprinkle the spice mixture onto the turkey.  Rub the mixture in well.  Thread the turkey onto the bamboo skewers, leaving room between each piece to ensure uniform cooking.  Cover the skewers and refrigerate for at least one hour.

2.  Grill the skewers.  Approximately fifteen minutes before grilling, remove the skewers out of the refrigerator.  Heat a gas or charcoal grill over high heat.  Brush some olive oil carefully onto the grates to prevent sticking.  Thereafter, place the skewers on the grill.  Cook the skewers for 2-3 minutes, then turn the skewers.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes and turn the skewers again.  Repeat this process until the turkey is cooked through.


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