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Ground Turkey

I made a pasta sauce with ground turkey and I did not like it all. It was so dry and tasteless. Has anyone had success with this in sauce? I am trying to use it due to a health condition of a family member who cannot eat food high in iron, so regular ground beef is not an option.

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  1. Did you use white meat or dark meat? Dark meat is the way to go.

    4 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      White meat, and lean said the package.

      1. re: chefj

        Dark meat, while tastier, is much higher in iron than white ... so would defeat the purpose.

      2. Maybe turkey meatballs with some added seasonings and moisture would be an improvement in the sauce. I do like ground turkey in sloppy Joes, chili, and tacos.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Tara57

          when using lean ground turkey breast, i agree. for moisture and flavor, i cook some onion and puree it, then mix it with the meat with salt and pepper, sometimes herbs.

          1. re: Emme

            Me too. I have a recipe I love, adapted from the Joy of Cooking, for turkey meatballs. I add a piece of bread soaked in milk, plus sauteed onion and various spices (and maybe an egg? it's been a long time since I made them, actually), then simmer in chicken stock. This probably doesn't meet the low-iron test, though.

            1. re: Kitchen Imp

              You cannot completely remove iron from the diet, red meat is high in iron, but turkey is not.

        2. For pasta sauce, try Italian sausage made with turkey. For other ground beef subs, give ground thighs (or not just ground breast) a try. If you drain it after browning, the end result will not have much more fat that starting with lean, but it will taste much better.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mpjmph

            dark-meat turkey is fairly high in iron - possibly disallowed by the friend's diet.

            Dark-meat turkey is consistently recommended as a higher-iron food for those who need iron in their diet.

          2. I actually really enjoy the taste and nutrition benefits of 99% ground turkey breast when I am trying to save a few grams of fat to make room for my bacon and eggs in my morning omelette :) I have used it in many things from the simplest addition of just salsa to tacos, chili, buffalo dip, etc. I don't mind the dryness per se, but with simple add-ons like salsa or mustard it can be much drier than usual ground meats. I use it routinely in tacos and have with the addition of seasoning after a good simmer in water and addition of cheese and salsa that I don't find it dry at all. A recent favorite is to c I think the trick is to cook it on lower heat vs the usual medium to high heat used to brown and saute grown meat and I often had a tsp or two of water while it's cooking and stir the meat around pretty regularly. On a daily basis, I find it makes a quick healthy meal and you can combine it with multiple different condiments and toppings. My recent favorite lunch has been ground turkey breast mixed with Frank's red hot sauce, sauteed mushrooms and blue cheese. So, usually I just saute it on low and add whatever flavors suit my mood. However, I do know that a lot of people just don't like the texture and no matter what it's too dry and flaky and in these situations the 93% dark/white meat ground combination is a great substitute and also fairly low fat compared to higher % fat ground beef like 90% lean and lower. As it works best in meals with a lot of moisture/liquid, I imagine that you since you didn't like it in pasta sauce perhaps you should go with the higher fat ground turkey. I will admit that people try to substitute it for beef, but I don't think that works too well as it has a very different texture and flavor and so I primarily use it when I actually want to taste turkey. If you are trying to watch calories/fat, the 96% beef offers a little bit more flavor but is also incredibly lean and nearly the same calories.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fldhkybnva

              It is not about the calories, my husband cannot eat foods with iron in them due to a high iron count. So I have been trying to use ground turkey. I think you are suggesting the meat needs to be cooked with some moisture as did Tara57 and as well I need to have a different mix of fat as others have mentioned as well. I have been buying the lean so will be on the lookout for the dark meat mix.

            2. I use ground turkey a lot (Jennie-O, and Foster Farms mostly). Hardly miss the beef except a burger now and then. Give yourself time to get use to it. Especially since it sounds like a change that you made remissly. It's wonderful in bolognese, sloppy joes, meatballs, and my personal favorite lettuce wraps. I think you'll learn to like it once you let the beef go. :)

              3 Replies
              1. re: letsindulge

                Unfortunately we do not have a lot of options in Canada on ground turkey. We do not have the two brands that you have mentionned. We do have to let the beef go but sometimes we are not always successful, we ate surf and turf last weekend but most times we steer (no pun intended) away from the beef.

                1. re: Ruthie789

                  Ruthie, I'm wondering about a butcher or poultrerer. A butcher who does mostly beef, veal and perhaps some lamb won't want to have to clean his grinding equipment for turkey, but one who has ground poultry or makes poultry sausages might. I'm thinking of the great Fernando's (formerly Zinman's on Roy in the Plateau. I've also seen ground poultry at Supermarché PA (avenue du Parc, Fort, and on Samson in Laval). Don't you live in the West Island? You might try Adonis.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    Jennie O and Foster farms are not available in Montreal. I do buy some ground meat at the butchers. Lately we have been eating red meat although my husband is not supposed to at all. We have to get back on track.