Tuesday, March 22, 2016

58. Chipotle Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Aioli and Feta

Chipotle Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Aioli and Feta Collage

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This latest recipe was part of a big undertaking!  We threw a combination family birthday/retirement party at our house and I decided to do a taco trio!  I thought it would be a great opportunity to knock off a few recipes in one day, and I was hoping that it would be fun for my family to try some of my taco creations.  I'm lucky to have my parents and two of my siblings (and their families) close by, but they're just far enough away that they don't often get a chance to try my recipes.

Fortunately, I've been on spring break this week, so I had a chance to plan ahead a bit.  I decided to make a lamb taco, a brisket taco, and a turkey taco.  I'm not going to lie - it was pretty crazy.  I went to the store with a few notes jotted down on some post-its and tried to get ingredients for ALL of the tacos . . . and a cake!  (Because you have to have a cake if it's a birthday!)

Since I started this project, I've fallen into a comfortable routine.  I come up with an idea.  I develop a rough draft.  I shop.  Then, I make the recipe.  If any amounts or instructions change, I make adjustments to the recipe as I go.  After I'm done and we try it, I review it and finish up the post.  I wouldn't say that it's easy, but it works.

This time, I was dealing with the same process . . . times three!  The cooking processes of the different recipes overlapped.  The ingredients were all mixed up.  To top it off, I was making a new cake recipe that I found on The Goodie Godmother blog (which was delicious, by the way)!

It was an interesting (and slightly stressful) day, but it all turned out for the best!

In this post, I'll focus on the turkey recipe.  I had already planned two slow-cooked main ingredients, so I thought I'd use some ground meat to provide a different texture (and also to give me at least one main ingredient that wouldn't need to go in the oven for a few hours).  I decided to use herbs that I generally associate with a delicious roast turkey - sage, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.  Just for fun, I decided to throw some dried cranberries.  And, because I never leave well enough alone, I added a chipotle kick!

Since turkey is often served with mayo (right?), I decided to top it with a flavorful aioli that also contained the cranberry and chipotle elements.

The result was even better than I expected!  This was actually my favorite taco out of the trio!

Because I served three kinds of tacos, it's hard to say exactly how many this recipe serves.  I used about 2.5 pounds of ground turkey.  A pound of ground meat usually serves about four for tacos.  I think it's safe to say that, if this recipe was the only main dish, it would serve about eight to ten.  That's a lot of tacos :)

Here's the recipe:

Chipotle Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Aioli and Feta

Serves about 8 to 10


For the cranberry-chipotle aioli:

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
3/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1/4 tsp. salt

For the chipotle turkey filling:

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 to 3 tbsp. butter
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
2.5 lb. ground turkey
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup dried cranberries

12 crunchy taco shells 

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Crumbled feta cheese


1.  Make the aioli:  Place the cranberry juice cocktail in a small saucepan.  Bring it to a boil and reduce it over medium-high heat until it measures about two tablespoons.  Mine looked like this:

Allow the syrup to cool.  When it is completely cool, put it to a small bowl and add the rest of the aioli ingredients.  Stir until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and set aside.

Cranberry Chipotle Aioli for Turkey Tacos

2.  Make the turkey filling:  Heat the olive oil and 2 tbsp. of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, or until fragrant.  Add the dried herbs, the onion powder, and the chipotle.  Cook and stir for an additional minute.  Add the turkey, salt, and pepper and increase the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring and breaking apart with a spatula, until the turkey is completely done.  Add the wine and simmer until most of it has been reduced.  If the mixture seems dry, add an additional tablespoon of butter.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Chipotle Turkey with Cranberries for Tacos

3.  Prepare the shells:  Preheat an oven (or toaster oven) to 375 degrees.  Place the desired number of shells on a baking sheet.  Toast until hot and just starting to brown - about 1 to 3 minutes.  This could vary depending on your oven, so watch them carefully.  They can go from browned to burned very quickly!

4.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a shell on a plate.  Fill with some of the turkey mixture.  Top with a sprinkle of shredded lettuce.  Spoon on some of the aioli and finish with the feta cheese!  Enjoy!

Chipotle Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Aioli and Feta

And that completes the third recipe in my trio!  :)

These were unexpectedly delicious!  I mean . . . I thought they would be good, but I loved the contrast between the traditional turkey seasonings and the chipotle.  It worked!  The slight sweetness of the cranberries was perfect, too!

Chipotle Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Aioli and Feta

With these crunchy taco shells, it does help to have some little holders!  These aren't the exact ones that I have, but they're very similar:

It definitely helps make the pictures turn out better!  :)

Taco Trio - Pulled Lamb Shank Tacos, Brisket Tacos, and Chipotle Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Aioli
Clockwise, from the top:  Chipotle Turkey Taco with Cranberry Aioli, Smoked Brisket Taco with Ancho Barbecue Sauce and Pico de Gallo, and Pulled Lamb Shank Taco with Pineapple-Tomatillo Salsa
You can find the lamb taco recipe here and the brisket taco recipe here.  As I said, I think this one was my favorite, but all three recipes were pretty great - I was happy with them!

Next time, though, I might think twice before attempting three in one day!

So . . . about that cake.  Wow.  It was amazing.  It's a Snickers cake!  Yes.  As in the candy bar.  There is no actual candy bar involved, though.  It's all from SCRATCH!

Snickers Cake from The Goodie Godmother - Peanuts, Caramel, Chocolate, Nougat

You can find the recipe (created by Mary of The Goodie Godmother) here.  You will notice that mine looks much more . . . rustic than hers.  Ha ha.

Well.  In my defense, I was making three taco recipes at the same time.  I didn't quite brown the caramel sauce as much as I should have.  I assembled it pretty quickly.  I could have let the nougat and the ganache set just a bit more.  There are gooey, sugary substances oozing out all over the place.

Sigh.  A pastry chef I am not.  It was delicious, though!  Steve and I are thoroughly enjoying the leftovers.  (Yes - with a cake this rich and decadent, there were leftovers!)

It was a fun night - eight adults, one six-year-old, one three-year-old, and two two-year olds!  Silliness!  This next photo pretty much sums it up!  I had to include it, because it's just too cute.  I love my nephews!  :)

Silly Nephews Playing Drums

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  What's your personal limit for the number of new recipes that you'll try during one twenty-four hour period?  Ha ha.

Thanks for reading!

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