Here in the State it is the season for cheap turkeys. Being so cheap I can’t help but buy at least one, but being so large, roasting an entire bird for two people seams a bit overkill. That and roasting a bird so that it is both completely done and the breasts are still juicy is far more involved of a process than I like. So I usually cut up the bird into smaller, easier to use parts. For my Thanksgiving dinner I braise the quarters. As for the breasts, which when roasted usually require large amounts of gravy to get down on the first day and large amounts of mayo on subsequent days, I like to use to make 火雞肉飯 (huo ji rou fan) Turkey Rice. Bypassing the whole problem of dry turkey breast altogether.
Chiayi 嘉義 (Jia Yi) city located between Taichung and Tainan on Taiwan’s west coast is famous for its Turkey Rice. There seems to be a Turkey Rice stand on every corner in the city. Which may seem strange for such a humble dish that goes back to before the economic boom in Taiwan, but every place has to have a specialty and that is theirs. It may be cheap and not particularly interesting to look at, but it is quite good and makes good use of an otherwise dry and less than flavorful cut of meat. One taste and you might understand why it is so popular.
There is a couple tricks to this otherwise very simple recipe. First try to find a pot that not much larger in diameter than the turkey breast, you sort of want to minimize the amount of liquid used to braise the turkey breast. Second and most important, is when serving Turkey Rice a couple spoonfuls of the oily, flavorful braising liquid the bird is poured over the meat and rice.
This recipe is for one turkey breast (half the chest), I usually do the whole chest (both breasts) with the bone in, so I just double the ingredients more or less. You can if you have a large enough pot do the whole bird, just scale up accordingly and cook it a bit longer…and invite about 50 of your closest friends over for dinner.
- 1 turkey breast (or two chicken breasts) whole, with skin on
- 1 T of cooking oil
- 2-3 shallots, sliced thin
- 2 scallions, cut into 3″ pieces
- 6 slices of ginger
- 2 star anise
- 1 t salt
- 1 T soy sauce
- 2-3 cups of stock or broth
- sliced pickled daikon and cilantro to garnish
- Blanch the turkey breast in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and wash off.
- In a deep pot add a tablespoon of cooking oil. Fry the sliced shallots over medium heat until golden brown. Add the scallions and ginger and fry for about a minute.
- Add the Turkey breast and just enough stock to cover. Add the star anise, salt, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hr.
- Take the breast out of the liquid and shred with a fork.
- To serve put some of the shredded meat over a bowl of white rice, then pour a spoonful or two of the oily cooking liquid over the turkey. Then garnish with a slice of pickled daikon and a sprig of cilantro.