When my son was much younger, he, like most children these days, had all sorts of after school activities to attend; Mad Science on a Monday, swimming on a Tuesday, football on a Wednesday and tennis on a Thursday. I would make him an after school snack – usually Vogel seeded bread with either hommous and cucumber or peanut butter and banana – to keep him going until dinner. We would get home and I would get something cooked and on the table in record breaking time. ‘Tennis’ Turkey came about when we stopped at the Sainsbury’s Local near the tennis club on the way home and picked up a pack of turkey breast steaks. I got home, took a look at what I had in the cupboards and this dish came together.
It was so tasty, with a depth of flavour which belied it’s short cooking time, that I wrote down what I had done whilst Jake cleared away (he has been setting the table and clearing the dishes for a very long time now – just wish he would show some interest in cooking rather than just eating!). I asked him what he thought the dish should be called and without hesitation, he said ‘Tennis Turkey” and the name has stuck.
It is one of those dishes where prep and cooking harmoniously segue into each other. I start by washing and putting some rice on to cook. Then as the oil in the frypan heats up, I slice the onion and toss that in, with a pinch of salt to help it along. As that cooks, I thump the cumin in the pestle and mortar, slice the turkey into long strips, mince the garlic and chop some herbs.
Once the onions have had about 10 minutes – and cooking them long and slow is what give the dish such a great depth of flavour- I stir in the garlic and then spread the turkey strips out in a layer. While those are cooking on one side, I get the peas, creme fraiche and bouillon out and slice the lemon. Then I give the strips a stir, add the cumin and cook for a minute or so until there is very little pink visible in the meat.
Then I yell up the stairs at Jake to set the table, add the bouillon powder, the creme fraiche and a little water, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any caramelisation and let that bubble and thicken, stir in the peas, squeeze over some lemon and it’s done!
Of course you can substitute chicken breasts if you don’t like or can’t find turkey. Both cook really quickly and are ideal for this sort of cooking. Can I also mention this time saving flavour booster?
I love these tubs of crispy fried onions – a little sprinkle adds crunch and a savoury note to things like egg salads, noodle soups and rice – a very short ingredient list (onions, vegetable oil, wheat flour and salt) and a real time saver…I have seen them in bags in the Indian grocery stores too.
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 large onion or 4 shallots
- pinch of salt
- 1 clove of garlic
- 500g (or 4 x) turkey breast steaks
- 2 tsp dry roasted cumin seeds, separated
- 1 tsp Marigold bouillon powder or a vegetable stock cube, crumbled
- ½ cup water
- 2 Tbsp ½ fat creme fraiche or double cream
- ¼ of a lemon
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- crispy fried onions (optional)
- red peppercorns (optional)
- Halve and slice onion in half moons and sauté gently on a medium low heat, in the olive oil with a pinch of salt, until floppy and pale gold. This should take about 10 minutes. If the onions start to catch, stir in a little water and lower the heat
- While the onions are cooking, slice the turkey across the grain into 1 cm thick strips, chop the garlic and pound 1 tsp of the cumin seed in a mortar and pestle.
- Then stir the garlic into the onions and let this cook for a minute or so.
- Add the turkey strips, spreading them out in one layer and let them cook on one side, browning slightly, before stirring to cook on the other side.
- Sprinkle on the ground and whole cumin and stir for a minute.
- Sprinkle on the bouillon power stir, then add the water and the creme fraiche. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken a little. Squeeze in a little lemon to taste.
- Stir in the peas and cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the parsley just before serving.
- Top with a few crispy fried onions and a few red peppercorns if using.
Serve with rice.