While digging through my refrigerator’s freezer I ran across a couple of pound rolls of ground turkey. Immediately my mind went to thoughts of spaghetti: rich tomato sauce filled with ground meat, onions, peppers, mushrooms and black olives, covered in Parmesan cheese. I could smell it already. I like turkey spaghetti in a huge way!
I put the rolls into the fridge to thaw for a couple of days. Patience was required. By the third day I was going to make spaghetti all day long, enjoying the smells wafting out of the crockpot.
I used a large nonstick skillet on medium high to sear the turkey until it was browned in places. I just smash the meat over the bottom of the skillet and let it fry for 5 minutes without touching it. It adds so much more flavor to make sure it is browned.
That achieved, I break it up into pieces and add diced onions and red bell peppers to the skillet and continue to fry them until the onions are translucent. I break up the turkey a little more as I stir occasionally, but don’t worry about it much. It will fall apart more as it cooks in the crockpot.
When the meat mixture is done I pour it into a crockpot and add tomatoes, paste, and seasonings. After a good stir I turn the pot to high and let it cook for a couple of hours. Usually about 2 hours.
At 2 hours I stir it, taste test for salt and pepper, and add mushrooms and black olives. This time I used canned mushrooms. Their flavor is different than fresh mushrooms but we like them just the same.
I turned the crockpot down to low as it had been bubbling heartily for 2 hours. My crockpot doesn’t have a ‘medium’. You might want to adjust the temperature based on your dial choices.
I let the crockpot simmer for about 3 more hours before starting my pasta. I like angel hair as it doesn’t curl up into such a large lump to shove in my mouth. I cook the pasta to al dente in salted water then save 2 cups of pasta water before draining it.
Back in the large skillet over medium high heat I heat a couple of scoops of the sauce and add a serving of pasta to the skillet, tossing and stirring to mix. I let the pasta soak up the sauce for several minutes, adding a little pasta water if it gets dry too quickly. I like blending the pasta and sauce in a skillet to allow the pasta to become more flavorful. I learned this watching tv. TV cooking shows have given me some really great tips, such as this one!
As each serving is plated I added shredded Parmesan on top and the spaghetti was ready to eat. Mmmmm.. Just like I remembered. Comfort food to the max. I love the flavor of using ground turkey instead of ground beef in spaghetti because it has so much more flavor. Adding tomato paste gives it a stronger tomato presence it doesn’t get from just diced tomatoes.
In adding tomato paste the sauce ends up a bit bitter, and I’ve found mirin is a good cure for that. I’ve added sugar in the past and that just seemed wrong. Using mirin as a sweetener is perfect. It was a small leap from there to add soy sauce as the salt factor in the sauce. You could say it’s an Asian spaghetti, but people would think you’re crazy. Just some. Not me of course.
I served the pasta with a green salad. We ate until we were bursting, and had to take naps. Joking. But we were full. And of course we had so much sauce leftover we’ll have it again. Nobody is complaining! P.S. That photo above is hubby’s serving. I wouldn’t eat that much. Really.
Ground Turkey Spaghetti Bolognese
2# ground turkey
1 medium onion; diced
1 red bell pepper
3 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 15 ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 can chopped mushrooms
1 15 ounce can black olives; chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan for serving
Saute ground turkey in a large nonstick skillet preheated to medium high. When meat begins to caramelize add onions and peppers and continue cooking until onions are translucent.
Place meat mixture into a crockpot or slow cooker. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings. Stir well and cook on high for 2 hours.
Reduce heat to low and add mushrooms and black olives. Taste test for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2-3 more hours.
Cook spaghetti or angel hair pasta according to directions to al dente. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of pasta water.
In the large skillet add 2-3 scoops of spaghetti sauce and bring to a bubble over medium heat. Add a serving of pasta and stir. Let the pasta cook with the sauce for 2-3 minutes to absorb the liquid. Serve with parmesan.
Tip: if your pasta sticks together while you make each portion in the skillet, run warm water over it to loosen. I often do that before refrigerating leftover plain pasta as well, because it will prevent it from becoming a glued together mass.
You could serve the pasta covered with sauce without using the skillet, but you will have way more flavor if you work the pasta with the sauce. I learned that from the TV chefs. You can work two servings at once but it is harder to handle and separate.