A fast, no fuss version of Turkey Cacciatore
This is an adapted recipe great for parties but skips sone if the tradtional pre-browning steps usually done for this “Hunters Style” dish. If you have the time and desire – it will add an extra hearty, roasted flavor to the cooking. In either case – it uses the slow cook, braising method that makes it perfect for a party – so this also adapts for slow cooker fans.
Hint: If I know I want to make this – I will sometime pre-brown the turkey on the outdoor grill grill the day before while making other meats to save a step and reduce clean up (but omit the flour step below).
You can use boned or boneless, or a combination. I find I like to have some of both for home cooking but for a party, I find that boneless is easier but a mix of white and dark meat is crucial to get the rich flavor.
Note: You can always ask the local butcher to debone and skin a turkey for you. They provide you with the meat, skin and bones to use for stock. When I do this – I often toss in a few of the bones to cook with it then discard them before serving.
I tend to use 1lb of turkey to an equal amount of peppers & onions. (so 1lb t, 1 pepper, 1 onion) this version is based on that scale and serves 6-9 depending on how you serve it.
- olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions (or 1 large),finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped (I honestly can’t tell the difference between these and green ones – other than they are more expensive.)
- 2 -28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
- 1-2 cups tomato sauce. (The amount will depend on how much liquid you want it to cook in and if you plan to serve it on top of pasta, rice or noodles)
- 2 cups white wine (optional – I have used cranberry or pomegranate juice for a nice affect as well) or chicken or turkey stock – essentially create a flavor broth to braise in…)
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained & rinsed
- fresh basil leaves chopped, to garnish
- all-purpose flour (for pre-cook method or to thicken the sauce at the end. Corn starch works for this too)
- Using shears or a sharp knife, trim off any excess skin from the turkey. If you plan to sear the meat, you can leave some on to add to the flavor. Cut into serving sized pieces.
- Now if you want to do the longer, pre-cook method:
- Season each piece of turkey with salt and pepper, then dredge with flour in a large shallow bowl and set aside.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, then brown the turkey pieces in batches until crisp and golden-brown on the outside. Set aside.
- For the other method
- Season the cut up meat pieces with salt and pepper
- Add 1/2 of a can from one of the drained diced tomatoes, 3 springs or rosemary and the garlic and let sit an hour or overnight. If making to eat sooner – go to step four and omit this part
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- For both versions, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, then sauté the onions, garlic and peppers for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently, until completely softened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the tomatoes (or rest of them). The white wine (or substitute with cranberry or pomegranate juice or stock), the oregano , the capers, and the tomato sauce, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the volume is reduced by half. Stir and taste for more seasoning.
- This is the time to add any other herbs that inspire you. Rosemary, oregano, sage, bay etc. Note: I tend not to use parsley in this since I don’t want it to taste like a turkey version of sausage & peppers.
- To finish the cooking, place in the preheated oven.
- Some recipes recommend a covered cooking approach (foil or dutch oven) other suggest uncovered. I tend to do 90 minutes covered, then uncover it for the last 30 min. Only covering it again if it needs more time.
- For dutch oven folks – add the turkey pieces to the sauce, making sure everything is coated, then cover pot with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook turkey meat is falling off the bone. (Slow-cookers & crock pot users should adjust for time)
- For larger parties, you can use a ½ or full foil pan. Add the turkey & vegetables pieces to the pan, (I like to use my hands to mix them ) then pour over the sauce mixture, making sure everything is coated, then cover with foil, transfer to the oven and cook until turkey meat is falling off the bone.
- FYI – This wont be a heavey gravey style sauce unless you want to adjust to make it that way. Rather it’s a lighter, richer liquid somewhere between a sauce and broth.
- Serve garnished with basil on a platter alongside pasta, potatoes or rice. This can also stay warm from a chafing pan or transferred to a warm crock pot for standing meals.
- I tend to not check the cooking process until after the first hour, stir if needed then recover.
- Truth be told – I often omit steps 5 & 6 and just put it all in raw when time is short and people like it just as well- this works well if I am using left over roasted vegetables so they add a extra depth.
- If you find the sauce is too thin after cooking- you can use the “liquid and flour (cornstarch) method” used to make gravy or to thicken chills and after whisking flour into a small portion of the hot liquid, pouring it and siring it back into the pan. Stirring well does a nice job.
- For dutch oven folks – add the turkey pieces to the sauce, making sure everything is coated, then cover pot with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for two hours or until turkey meat is falling off the bone. (Slow-cookers & crock pot users should adjust for time)
- For larger parties, you can use a ½ or full foil pan. Add the turkey & vegetables pieces to the pan, (I like to use my hands to mix them ) then pour over the sauce mixture, making sure everything is coated, then cover with foil, transfer to the oven and cook for two hours or until turkey meat is falling off the bone.