What a whirlwind weekend it has been! It went straight into Monday and barely stopped then! Between work and church and an LTC class with the girls (responsible gun ownership begins with me, I say!) and jam-making for some church ladies, I’ve been on go-mode until today. I’ve scarcely had time to make a full meal, including today! I broke my taco tradition today and we made something easy while I worked on some things I was behind on around the house.
I just wish I still had more leftovers from last week’s Turkey Taco Skillet from The Pioneer Woman’s Come and Get It! cookbook in my Lodge cast iron. As much as I enjoy refined foods and exploring different cultures, I’m a Texas girl first and beef is usually my first protein of choice. That said, it took so much self-control not to swap out Ree’s choice of ground turkey with my personal favorite grass-fed ground beef. It’s been some years since we’ve used ground turkey and it’s good for your palate to change things up every once in a while. Ree’s always good about bringing a few healthier meals to the table!
Creamy black beans beefed up the protein in this dish and mingled nicely with the crumbled turkey and deliciously smokey chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (I love using La Costeña brand)! This was probably one of the laziest (in a good way!) weeknight meals I could have possibly thrown together! The only hitch I came across, was that I don’t have a gas burner like Ree does in her Lodge (no relation to the cast iron) kitchen. Instead, I pan-“charred” the tortillas prior to tearing them. Another option would have been to coarsely break up some big tortilla chips to fold into the meat-and-bean mixture.
I submitted to using ground turkey instead of grass-fed beef even though grass-fed beef has so many inherent health benefits owing to it’s diet (see the excerpt from the book Passionate Nutrition by Jennifer Adler and Jess Thomson below). Don’t you know it… I didn’t miss the beef! The meat-and-bean mixture was well-seasoned and perfectly juicy with the addition of some of the broth from the beans. It reminds me of the times in college when I used to swap out ground beef for ground chicken or turkey in recipes in an effort to clean up my boyfriends’ diets a little. It didn’t fool them since it’s not 100% the same, but it’s still a nice switch every once in a while. Especially since it’s Summertime!
As in every recipe, as much as I try to stick to and experience the author’s original work… concessions must always be made. For starters, I added garlic powder to the roster of seasonings. Tacos really aren’t tacos without garlic in my opinion. Okay, fine! There aren’t many savory recipes that are complete without garlic. In my opinion. That would be like making guac without lime or cilantro. It’s just so incomplete without one or both! Garlic added a different shade of spiciness and zest to the dish that would have been lacking otherwise.
The other change I made wasn’t that big of a change at all really. I rarely buy canned goods (the exception being for the chipotle peppers in adobo) since the fresh is so very prevalent and inexpensive to come by. Black beans are one of these things. Beans are so cheap and so easy to make that I rarely buy them canned anymore. Plus I like being able to control what goes in them – not out of fear, but out of personal taste. One Christmas, my sweet husband bought me the Pioneer Woman model Instant Pot. It has revolutionized the way I cook beans! I can have dried beans ready to eat in 20-25min! In the time it took me to prep ingredients (including washing and shaving the radishes into neat slices) and start cooking, I was ready to stir the beans and a little broth into the dish!
For the beans, into the cookpot of the machine, I stirred together 1/2c dried black beans with 1c vegetable broth. Into the pot, I added a sprig of epazote from my garden. Epazote is an aromatic Mexican herb used in cooking. (I ordered a plant of it and some mojito mint from Colonial Creek Farm and can’t say enough good things about their service and quality of plants!) If you don’t have it, feel free to skip it or use a handful of chopped cilantro to flavor the pot. I closed and sealed the lid and set the machine to “Manual” for 20min. (If the beans are sufficiently tender after 20min, just reseal and process again for 5min.) After the cook time went off, I released the steam valve and allowed the steam to escape. Presto! Black beans almost on demand!
For the final swap, I opted for cotija instead of queso fresco. I’m sure queso fresco floats many people’s boats, but… it just seems so bland to me. We prefer cotija (particularly Cacique brand). It’s just as crumbly, but with way more flavor and salty goodness! It adds an extra layer of flavor where I believe queso fresco would just blend into the background. One day I believe I’ll find a great recipe using queso fresco. If you have a good one, leave me one in the comments below and I’ll try one out!
Finish it off with a scattering of chopped fresh cilantro and a dollop of Daisy and you’ve got yourself a party on a plate… er in a skillet. A nice variation on this would be to omit the garlic in the seasoning and instead to finish the dish with roasted garlic. Don’t like radishes? Try quick-pickling them first or swapping them out with chopped shallot or pickled red onion. I do love a good quick-pickle! Yum!
What is your favorite one-pan/skillet meal?
Currently Reading: Passionate Nutrition by Jennifer Adler