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11/07/2019

~Let's Talk about Poached Turkey Breast Tenderloins~

IMG_5828We're all familiar with chicken breast tenderloins.  Weighing in at about 2-3 ounces each, these 4 1/2"-5" long, thin strips of chicken are the tenderest part of the chicken.  I love them, and use them often, because, quite frankly, they are superior to the last-luster, "rubber chicken" boneless, skinless breast.  Whole, chopped, sliced or lightly-pounded, they cook quickly.  They can be poached or simmered, pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried, or grilled-panned to use in any recipe that requires cooked chicken -- soups, salads, sandwiches, or casseroles, and, dishes like chicken curry, Parmesan, Milanese, Oscar, Piccata, etc.  You get my point -- they're versatile.

IMG_5784While we're all familiar with whole, bone-in turkey and whole bone-in turkey breast or breast halves, we're not all as familiar with turkey breast tenderloins.  Weighing anywhere from 8-ounces to 1-pound each, these 7 1/2"-8" long, plump pieces of turkey are the tenderest part of the turkey. I love them, and use them occasionally, because, quite frankly, an entire turkey or a turkey breast all-to-often yields more turkey than needed, or takes more time to cook than I've got.  There's more. Trust me when I tell you, a poached turkey tenderloin sliced and served with mashed potatoes, gravy, a green vegetable and cranberry sauce is as wonderful as any oven-roasted turkey dinner.

That said, unlike its cute cousin the chicken tender, turkey tenderloin, because of its larger size, is not quite as versatile.  When it comes to cooking turkey tenderloins, any method that works for a bone-in or boneless chicken breast half can be adapted to work for a turkey tenderloin. My two favorite methods of preparing it are oven-roasting or stovetop poaching, but, it's worth mention I've had excellent results marinating it or applying a dry rub to it to grill it outdoors too.

Poaching vs. Roasting = Low Moist Heat vs. High Dry Heat.

Poaching = 30-40 minutes.  Roasting = 1-1 1/4 hours.

The term "poach" is from the French verb "pocher" meaning to cook gently in water or seasoned liquid.  The liquid, called "court bouillon" or "short broth", is classically a mixture of water, an acid (such as lemon juice, wine, and/or vinegar or wine vinegar), aromatics (such as onion, celery and/or carrot), an herb or two (such as parsley, thyme and/or bay leaf), salt and peppercorns. That said, poaching chicken is a worldwide sport and the liquid should be seasoned accordingly. For example: When I'm poaching chicken for Asian fare, I use ginger, lemongrass and/or lime leaves, cilantro, soy sauce and/or fish sauce (in place of salt) and a cayenne chile pepper.

Shallow poaching involves placing the food to be poached, presentation side up, atop or in the center of the aromatics, herbs and spices in a shallow cooking vessel.  Cold or room temperature court bouillon is added until the food is partially-submerged in liquid.  The pan gets covered and the food gets cooked gently at a low temperature (barely simmering/shivering), which preserves both the flavor and the structural integrity of the food.  Deep poaching is almost identical, except the food is placed in a deep vessel and fully-submerged in liquid.  In both cases, depending upon the recipe, the liquid might require skimming at the start of or throughout the cooking process.

Place two large 3/4-1 pound, bone-in, skin-on turkey tenderloins, in a wide-bottomed 3 1/2 quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides (or a deep skillet):

IMG_5786Around perimeter, arrange 6-ounces onion chunks (half a medium onion), 4-ounces carrot cut into 2" lengths (one large carrot), 2-ounces celery cut into 2" lengths (one large celery stalk), 2 bay leaves (or 2 rosemary or thyme sprigs depending on what you're making/serving with tenderloins), and, 2 teaspoons each coarse sea salt and peppercorns:

IMG_5790Add 1 quart water, or, 3 1/2 cups water + 1/2 cup white wine:

IMG_5792Cover and place on stovetop over high heat.  When liquid comes to a rapid simmer, adjust heat to a very gentle simmer/shiver and continue to cook until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 170º, 30-40 minutes (smaller or larger tenders cook quicker or longer.):

IMG_5801^^^ Tip from Mel.  If you have a chef's pan with a glass lid, it's ideal, as it allows you to watch the poaching process and regulate the heat as necessary.  Remove from heat:

IMG_5803Using a large slotted spoon, transfer turkey from liquid to plate.  There's no need to discard the liquid, it's well-seasoned and tasty.  Simmer some egg noodles or rice in it:

IMG_5809Cover plate of turkey with plastic wrap and wait until it has cooled until you can comfortably handle it with your hands, prior to proceeding with specific recipe.

IMG_5813Poached perfection, fork-tender, moist and juicy too.  Each tenderloin yeilds 3-4 servings sliced and about 3-4 generous cups of chopped or pulled turkey tenderloin:

IMG_5818Let's Talk about Poaching Turkey Breast Tenderloins:  Recipe yields instruction to shallow-poach 2, 3/4-1 pound turkey tenderloins/6 servings.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides and lid (preferably glass); instant-read meat thermometer; large slotted spoon; plastic wrap

6a0120a8551282970b01bb0a00852d970dCook's Note: Looking for an all-purpose gravy that goes well on almost anything?  I've got one.  One basic recipe, made with a few pantry staples, and, in a few minutes:  a great gravy that carnivores and vegetarians can sit down to enjoy, together. Got pan drippings?  Just add them to my ~ Vegetarian Herb Gravy for Whatever Floats the Boat ~ along with the stock. Like a chameleon adjusts its color to blend in, this gravy graciously accepts any carnivorous flavor you've got to add.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)

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