The sneaky thing about a celebrity chef cooking in person is that they talk so sensibly and straightforwardly about making good food, you find yourself certain that every meal you cook can be a revelation, once you have the chance to get back to your kitchen. At least, that’s how we felt when BritMums and 4 food bloggers met up with Marco Pierre White last week for a turkey masterclass.
The bloggers were winners of our #Leanonturkey competition: bloggers posted their fresh turkey recipes and Marco himself chose the winners. We all gathered in a South London kitchen and picked up tricks of the trade as the incongruously soft-spoken chef whipped up recipes using fresh turkey in various forms.
“Turkey cooks quickly and has a mild taste, which makes it good for kids,” Marco said, as he prepared a turkey bolognaise. He displays a down-to-earth attitude about the needs of home chefs when discussing issues about organic, free-range and provenance of the animals we eat. “What’s important to me is how the animal is cared for,” he says. At home, feeding our families, we think about those issues in a wider context as well. “What dictates the shopping is the person’s pocketbook,” he says.
“There are more nutrients and vitamins in dark meat. Turkey’s a fantastic not just for the taste but for the nutrients,” said Mel.
Here, what we learned from being in the kitchen with Marco:
1. How long you need to cook ground turkey
Longer than you might think. You need to cook ingredients like onions and ground turkey long enough to remove the water and intensify the flavour. However, a benefit of turkey is that it cooks quickly. “When you can hear it sizzling in the pan – that means it’s done,” he says.
2. Whether you put oil and salt in the water for pasta
“I just do what my mother did.” For the record, he put 2 big pinches of salt into the boiling water.
3. Marco doesn’t ever send food back at a restaurant
Dining out is about the experience, the company, the conversation, the chef says. No matter how disappointing the dish is, you’ll never catch Marco waving it back to the kitchen.
4. Moist turkey is simple
Nevermind that reputation of having to work to keep turkey from being dry. “You can’t blame the bird for being dry. You blame the person cooking it,” says Marco. He scoffs at gimmicks like roasting the bird upside down to keep the breast juicy. Get a reliable meat thermometer, and roast the breast until the interior temperature is 66 degrees C, the thigh until it’s 72 degrees C.
5. “The most important thing is to be confident at the stove”
When you step up to your workspace, have the confidence to tweak your recipe, try new things, adjust them to your taste. That’s what make good chefs of us all.
Marco Pierre White’s Turkey Bolognaise
No carrots, no celery – I didn’t think that was even allowed with bolognaise but this version is bursting with flavour. “I like to make my bolognaise a day in advance. The flavours improve and the chilis actually get milder over time,” he says.
tinned tomatoes (yes)
chopped white onions
splash of white wine
No measurements (just like Marco). Here’s what I saw him do: Put a bit of olive oil in a big Le Creuset stock pot and saute the onions until golden; add garlic and do the same. Put in the ground turkey and cook until the water is removed and the meat is sizzling in the pan. I think he added the wine at this point.
Add the passata and tinned tomatoes. Put in some Knorr stockpot to add flavour. (Marco Pierre White promotes this product.)
At this point chat with the chef while he wields a huge kitchen knife. For a while.
Just before serving add in several squares of dark chocolate (let the kids do this), 3 to 4 chopped chilis and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. The chocolate deepens the colour and flavour. Ladle the sauce over pasta on the plate, or add the spaghetti into the Le Creuset and mix it all together before serving it — do whatever your mother used to do.
More turkey recipes from bloggers and posts about the masterclass
One Blue One Pink – Masterclass with Marco Pierre White
Chef Mel’s Kitchen – Her winning Spiced Turkey Burgers recipe
The Crazy Kitchen – Turkey Milanese a la Marco Pierre White
The Crazy Kitchen – My day with Marco Pierre White
Fuss Free Flavours – Her winning Turkey Koftes with Cous Cous Salad and Tzatziki recipe