Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets with Wild Rice and Mushrooms

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? on February 18, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.
Find just the Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets recipe here.
Find just the Wild Rice and Mushrooms recipe here.

Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets recipe originally published in Taste of Home, December/January 2011.
Wild Rice and Mushrooms recipe originally published by Pillsbury.

Usually, when I’m putting two dishes together, it is driven by the entree.  Not so in this case.  I found the recipe for the Wild Rice and Mushrooms and didn’t know what to do with it.  Ordinarily, when I have a breaded poultry dish, I look for a potato, but I decided to break from what I usually do and pair it with the rice.  I’m a daredevil like that – rice or potato, what will she choose?!?!?!

I also learned a couple things while making this meal.  One was very interesting and the other was a cooking lesson I will keep with me always.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets with Wild Rice and Mushrooms
I was proud of how pretty the dish looked.  Okay, I was most proud of how the breaded turkey looked, and I really felt like I needed more green or red on my plate, but I still didn’t think it turned out too bad.

Turkey dishes are always a challenge.  First of all, it isn’t easy to find turkey year round.  Yes, you can buy ground or a full turkey breast, but cuts of turkey are a little more elusive.  I was purchasing ground turkey and saw thinly sliced tenderloins.  I decided to buy them immediately (and I wish I had bought more). 

So there I was with a rice/mushroom side dish and fresh turkey cutlets.  I began digging around in my recent magazines and this dish popped up.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets

© Taste of Home
I’m not sure why the picture from Taste of Home looks so burnt.  I used pecans and got my cutlets a gorgeous golden brown.  Honestly, I think this was the proudest I’ve ever been of a breaded poultry dish.  I almost wish people other than my husband and I got to see it, although I was definitely happy not having to share.

I was very excited to give this dish a try.  First, I was excited about trying wild rice.  It is on Mayo Clinic’s web site as one of the whole grains to make a healthy diet.  Second, it has mushrooms in it and I LOVE mushrooms.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Wild Rice and Mushrooms
No picture by Pillsbury
When I bought the wild rice, I was a little put off by the color.  No wonder it had been relegated to the bottom shelf at the grocery store – healthy for you AND unappealing to look at.  When I opened the bag, the consistency wasn’t terribly appealing either.  It reminds me of chocolate jimmies.

Pillsbury didn’t post a picture of their dish.  I’m thinking it is because it isn’t the prettiest thing to look at.  I’m not saying it doesn’t look appealing.  I’m saying it would be difficult to photograph it without making people crinkle up their nose at it.  It is a real shame too, because I didn’t think it looked all that bad.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – There really wasn’t much prep work and the cooking is done in one pan and the baking is done in another.  However, transferring the boiling broth, vegetables and rice from one to the other is a very messy task.  Rinsing the rice was a pain too.

Start-to-Finish Time: WELL OVER TWO HOURS – Yes, you read that right.  The hands-on time is around 40 minutes, but you have to let it bake for at least 90 minutes, if not more.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – if you buy the almond “pre-slivered” and the mushrooms “pre-sliced” there is barely anything left to do.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – I only found one bag of wild rice, but it was with the other rice, so I didn’t have to search for too long or ask anyone for help.  You should have the equipment on hand and there really isn’t any technique that is out of the ordinary.

OverallSORRY HONEY, NO LEFTOVERS – this rating was specific to the turkey, although the wild rice wasn’t very far behind.  However, the turkey – YUM!  The breading was superb and a gorgeous golden brown.  The turkey was cooked to perfection and incredibly juicy.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4 (Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets) / 6 (Wild Rice and Mushrooms)

Nutritional Information (Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets – 3 ounces cooked turkey)
  • Calories 466
  • Total Fat 26g (3 g saturated fat)
  • Cholesterol 131mg
  • Sodium 448mg
  • Carbohydrate 20g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Protein 38g
Nutritional Information (Wild Rice and Mushrooms – ½ cup)
  • Calories 190
  • Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 1g)
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 440mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 20g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Sugars 1g
  • Protein 7g
Nutritional Information (3 oz cooked turkey with breading and ½ cup rice and mushrooms)
  • Calories 656
  • Total Fat 35g (Saturated Fat 4g)
  • Cholesterol 131mg
  • Sodium 888mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 40g
  • Fiber 4g
  • Sugars 1g
  • Protein 45g
The times given are for both recipes.  The turkey listed no prep time, just a total time of 25 minutes.  I included that time in with the cook time of the rice, since it will be done at the same time.  Here is how my cooking times came out:

Wild Rice and Mushrooms
  • Prep Time: 11 minutes
  • Assembly Time: 28 minutes
  • Bake Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 34 minutes
Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
The way I did the recipes, you can make the turkey cutlets during the final bake time, so the total time for the meal is 2 hours 34 minutes.

The serving size of the turkey is fairly large, so if you have younger children or are weighing your food into the appropriate serving sizes, you may be able to get a couple more out of the recipe.  The rice and mushroom recipe makes A LOT of rice, so if you are like me and paired the dish with a large salad, you should be able to stretch it a little farther as well.

As an entire meal, the numbers aren’t too bad.  I did my best to lower calories, fat and sodium where I could, including the fat free and reduced sodium chicken broth.  As I said before, if you serve this with a large salad and cut your portion size (at least for the turkey) in half, you should drastically reduce all the unhealthy numbers.

Changes denoted by red text

Wild Rice and Mushrooms:
3 tablespoons butter
1 package (5 ounces) white button mushrooms, sliced
½ cup slivered almonds (from a 2.5 ounce bag)
1 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed
½ cup sliced green onions
3 cups 100% fat-free and reduced-sodium chicken broth
Cooking Spray
Fit Wash

Pecan-Crusted Turkey Cutlets:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg whites
1 egg
3 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
2/3 cup ground pecans
1 package (17.6 ounces) turkey breast tenderloins
¼ cup olive oil

Ingredient Notes:
Butter – the original recipe gave the option of butter or margarine.  Butter has a better flavor, especially when using for sautéing vegetables.  Ordinarily, I go with the more heart healthy option, but when it comes to butter vs. margarine, I always have to go with butter.  If selecting butter, go with an unsalted/sweet cream/sweet butter option.  Salt is used as a preservative and isn’t needed.

White Button Mushrooms – the recipe gave the option of brown mushrooms, like cremini as an alternative.  The cremini variaety are slightly more flavorful than the white, but also more expensive.  P.S.  Buy pre-sliced mushrooms – it saves a ridiculous amount of time.

Wild Rice
  • I bought a bag of eight ounces and had about 2 tablespoons left after I measured out the cup, so I used it all.
  • Here is the first time I learned something I didn’t know – according to Cook’s Thesaurus it isn’t rice at all, but a grass seed.  I’m kind of glad I read that now, and not when I was buying it because that makes it sound VERY unappetizing.  That aside, it is rich in protein, but is more expensive and takes longer to cook.
  • If you can’t find it, you can use brown rice as a substitute.
Green Onions – to get ½ cup of sliced green onions, I used 3 from a bunch.

100% Fat-Free and Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth – almost all of the chicken broth I’ve found that is reduced-sodium is usually also no-fat.  One of the healthiest options I’ve found, so far, is Swanson’s Certified Organic chicken broth which has significantly lower sodium than its counterparts.

Cooking Spray – the casserole dish needs to be greased and I’ve found the most efficient and healthy way to do this is by using cooking spray.

Fit Wash – to get my vegetables clean, I use this citrus based wash prior to rinsing under tepid water.

Pecans – this is why I had the mini-chop listed in the equipment.  The pecans need to be finely ground (as you can see from the picture) and even chopped pecans don’t take it far enough.

Turkey Breast Tenderloins – the recipe called for cutlets, but I found these thinly sliced tenderloins instead.  Although it was thin, I still had to pound it thinner and that’s why I added the additional step in the directions.

Olive Oil – the recipe was originally used canola oil, but I like olive as the healthier option.  Olive oil has a much lower smoking point, so be careful while cooking to watch the temperature used to cook.  You may have to lower the heat a little, especially after the first batch has been cooked.

Equipment Needed:
Cutting Board
Raw Meat Cutting Board
(2) Sharp Knives
1½-quart Casserole Dish
Dutch Oven/Large Skillet
Large Spoon
Aluminum Foil
Parchment Paper
Meat Mallet
(3) Shallow Bowls
Large skillet
Flexible Spatula

Equipment Notes:
Cutting Board and Raw Meat Cutting Board – to avoid contamination, make sure you use two separate cutting boards to prepare your vegetables and raw meat.  Remember, it is not advised to use a wooden cutting board to cut up raw meat either.  The wood can absorb the raw meat juices and contaminate it.

Sharp Knives – just as with the cutting boards, I chose to use two separate knives.  Of course, you can get away with one knife, but do not use the same knife to cut the raw meat and then vegetables unless it has been properly washed first.

1½-quart Casserole Dish – you always want to use a glass baking dish or pan when using acidic ingredients (lemon juice) or anything with eggs (mayonnaise).  According to Better Homes and Gardens, these ingredients can react badly with the metal pan and cause the food to discolor.  Of course, this dish has neither of these ingredients, but I’m sure there is a purpose.

Dutch Oven / Large Skillet – the original recipe called for a large skillet, but I used my Dutch oven.  You can use a large skillet, but make sure your skillet is large and deep enough to hold all of the vegetables and 3 cups of broth.  If it isn’t and doesn’t, use your Dutch oven instead.

Flexible Spatula – a flexible spatula is great for delicate food like pastries or breaded meats/fish/poultry.  If you don’t have one, definitely pick one up!

Ordinarily, I tell you to prep all the ingredients prior to start cooking.  However, while the rice is cooking, you can prep the ingredients for the turkey, so only prep the Wild Rice and Mushroom ingredients before starting.

(1)  Make wild rice:
(a)  Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 1½-quart casserole with cooking spray.
(b)  Melt margarine in Dutch oven over medium heat.
(c)  Add mushrooms and almonds; cook and stir 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and almonds begin to brown.

Recipe said should be done in 3 minutes, but it took me about 5 minutes to get the almonds to brown.

(d)  Add wild rice; cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
(e)  Stir in onions and broth. Bring to a boil.

Which brings me to my second learning point that I will never forget – don’t stir while you pour in the broth.  It’s called STEAM and it BURNS when you stick your hand/arm in it!

(f)  Pour into greased casserole; cover with aluminum foil.

My casserole dish has a lid, but I’m always nervous about putting it in the oven, so I used foil.

(g)  Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.
(h)  Uncover; bake an additional 45 to 60 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
(2)  While rice is cooking, make turkey cutlets:
(a)  Place the tenderloin between parchment paper and pound them thin (¼-½ inches) with a meat mallet.  Cut into smaller pieces.

This step was added because I used tenderloins and they are much bigger/thicker than chicken.

(b)  Place flour in a shallow bowl.
(c)  In another shallow bowl, whisk the egg whites, egg, mustard, cayenne and salt.
(d)  In another shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs and pecans.
(e)  Coat cutlets with flour, then dip in egg mixture and coat with bread crumb mixture.
(f)  In a large skillet, cook turkey in oil in batches over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.

Reserve some oil to add to the pan after the first batch.  My first batch went 3 minutes per side, but once the oil heated up, it only went 2 minutes per side (and I reduced the heat slightly as well).  Try to get all of the cutlets done in 3 batches, because by the end of the 3rd I could smell remnants of pecan, bread crumbs and oil burning.
This was a great meal that was chock full of fiber and lean protein.  Since both dishes had a crunchy consistency to them, I probably would not serve them together again and instead look for something a little creamier as a side dish or flaky as a fish.

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