How do I time out the cooking for this ground turkey stir-fry?
June 30, 2020 1:39 PM   Subscribe

This looks like a simple recipe but I have questions about the timing of adding ingredients.

I plan to make this tonight except I'd like to add onion for more flavor. The recipe is pretty straightforward, but it doesn't give times and I'm not used to cooking ground turkey so I have no idea how long until it's fully cooked. I've seen recommendations from 5-15 minutes on the stovetop, so hopefully the longest amount of time will work. I would add maybe add the turkey and the onion at the beginning, cook for 8-9 minutes and add the asparagus for the remaining 7? (And maybe drain the fat before adding asparagus??)

Other considerations: I don't have a meat thermometer so I can't check if the turkey is fully cooked, but I'm ok if it's a little dried out and I need to add more oil etc. Also thinking of adding soy sauce and seasoning the meat, if anyone has any other pantry recommendations to spice this up (as it looks pretty bland but easy at least) feel free to pass them on. Thanks MeFi!
posted by andruwjones26 to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
I'd probably add the onion first to caramelize it a bit before the turkey came in. About 10 minutes sounds right for browning ground turkey, but you can play it by ear (or sight) - if it looks done, it more or less is. Maybe add some Worcestershire sauce instead of soy? And I'm one of those people who put hot sauce on everything, so hot sauce. :)
posted by kevinbelt at 1:46 PM on June 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I usually cook for longer than recipes estimate. Part of it will depend on how hot your skillet is. I think your estimates are about right.

If you've cooked any other ground meat (ground beef or ground chicken), they all cook in about the same amount of time.

I'd start the onions first, and when they're slightly softened, add the turkey. Crumble/chop the meat with your spoon, and cook about 7-10 minutes until the texture changes.

Then add your seasonings and the rest of the ingredients, and yes, cook another 7 minutes or so. The meat should be done by then. Throw the lid on it all if you really want to be sure it cooks thoroughly. The pieces of ground meat are small though, and will cook through pretty quickly.

I'd definitely add some soy or more salty flavor. Maybe even a dash of red pepper flakes for some more flavor. You can use some sesame oil, too to add some more oomph. Chili paste would be great too. It may be missing some acid. Think about a splash of vinegar or lemon or lime juice at the end, especially if it seems bland or dull. After it's cooked, you can also add some chopped peanuts or cashews or sunflower seeds for a texture contrast.
posted by hydra77 at 1:49 PM on June 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Depending on how lean your turkey is, you may not have to drain it. (I cook lean ground turkey all the time and there's usually nothing left in the pan.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:54 PM on June 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

There's no reason you can't cook each major ingredient separately, spooning each successively onto one bowl, then put the whole thing back in the pan a moment to heat through. That's not how stir fry is done by experienced cooks but it'll taste as good and you can be sure each part is appropriately cooked. You dirty one more bowl. Recipe looks tasty!
posted by tmdonahue at 2:18 PM on June 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

We brown ground turkey first. When it's no longer pink, it's moved to a bowl. It goes back in the pan with time to get hot.

Onion takes 5 minutes plus, and stays in the pan as other things are added. Garlic goes in during minute four.

I allow 6 minutes for asparagus in a stir fry, so your 7 minutes is very realistic.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:56 PM on June 30, 2020

A meat thermometer doesnt really help with ground meats, theres nothing for it to stick into. (If theres a technique that works, im open to correction).

I dont have any metric other than visual: make sure the ground meat has crumbled fully and browned fully through and you are done. Drain and set aside for most recipes.

The picture that accompanies that recipe doesnt make any sense to me, ground turkey doesnt look anything like that when cooked. Unless they are chopping it into large pieces are trying to keep them together somehow.

Ground meat is somewhat variable in its cook time due to the varying fat content, as is asparagus depending on the size & cook time.
I'd probably cook them separately to avoid overcooking the meat and undercooking the asparagus. And that "recipe" needs more added to it, more/different vegetables, a minimal sauce or something.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:05 AM on July 1, 2020

When I make a stir fry with ground meat (or any meat actually) I cook in stages (it's how my old Chinese cookbook, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes by Barbara Tropp does it). Start with the aromatics (onion, garlic, etc.) until they're soft or getting brown, throw in the meat and cook until it no longer looks raw, then move that into a bowl, cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, and throw back in the meat and the sauce and cook a few minutes more until everything is heated through and the flavors have melded. I don't think I've ever stir-fried a dish with the meat in it the whole time. You can do it (I've seen Martin Yan just pull the meat up the sides of a wok to get them out of the oil) but it's way easier to do it in stages. It's also helps to keep the meat from getting over done.
posted by ceejaytee at 9:39 AM on July 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

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