Friday, April 8, 2016

Seven-Layer Dip Bowl

Delicious and Healthy, Too!
This cold wet weather is not helping the restaurant business one bit, but it is giving me more time at home with Ann, so that's something of a win, no? Last night was another in a long series of slow week nights and so I decided to go home and make dinner for us. It's no secret that Ann and I are slowly trying to work off all that winter weight we put on and so we are being a bit more selective in what we eat.

We haggled a bit on the phone over dinner, throwing out one idea after another. It all kept coming back to the thawed ground turkey in the fridge. It finally dawned on me that we could do a really healthy version of the horribly unhealthy seven-layer dip, yet put it in a bowl so that we could eat it without the usual tortilla chips.

The layers are up to you, but I avoided the cheese and sour cream in my bowl because of my lactose intolerance. Ann went for both from her stash in the fridge. This is not a quick or haphazard meal. Between vegetable prep and milling spices and adding cook time for the beans and the turkey, this was a solid 30 minutes of work, even for a very quick professional chef.

The bottom layer for both of us was ground turkey which I added to a sauté of onions, poblanos, and garlic and cooked until just done through. Then I seasoned with salt, cumin, ancho powder, oregano, and the barest hint of cinnamon. A spice mill really helps. Get one. Keep your spices and chile peppers fresh and rotated and mill them to order. It does make a difference.

For the beans, the second layer, I opted for something texturally between soup beans (frijoles de la olla) and refried beans (frijoles refritos). I started by draining a large can of cooked pintos: I love to rehydrate dry beans overnight, but that's not a possibility much of the time, especially on a day when I didn't anticipate being home for dinner. Canned beans aren't as economical or even as tasty as dried beans, but they sure are one of life's great convenience foods and there's no shame at all in using them.

In the bean pot, I started  a sauté of diced onion, diced poblano, minced garlic, and minced cilantro stems. Once this cooked down for a bit, in went the beans, about two ounces of the adobo off a can of chipotles, salt, and water to cover. I cooked the beans in parallel with the turkey. Once the turkey was done, I moved the beans to the high burner and brought them down rapidly. Towards the end, I smashed some beans against the side of the pot with my spoon and this thickened the sauce quite quickly. I finished them like refried beans, cooking them while stirring often, until the beans started to pull away from the side of the pot.

On top of the turkey and beans, I layered chipotle salsa, halved grape tomatoes, nopalitos, green onions, and topped the whole thing with cilantro. Cubes of avocado and fresh, raw sweet corn would be great in this, in season.

This dish has it all: extremely tasty, high protein, low fat, high fiber, and has only complex carbs in the beans. It's a winner even if you doctor it with a bit of cheese, sour cream, or both.

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