For the Jewish holidays, my Nana stewed beef with lots of onions and mushrooms. Her preferred spices were simply salt and pepper. The result was hearty, earthy and a little on the heavy side. I’ve taken the best of Nana’s dish and lightened it by using turkey tenderloins instead of brisket or short ribs. A variety of mushrooms lends sophistication, and white wine adds a little acid. I think Nana would have liked this new version.
When she wasn’t cooking with chicken fat, Nana used peanut oil. But olive oil works just as well. If you have homemade chicken broth, by all means use it. The more varieties of mushroom you can find, the better this dish will turn out. Wegmans carries, among others, beech, oyster and sliced king oyster mushrooms. Most Asian markets carry a wide array, and Whole Foods sells a “chef’s sampler” that includes trumpet royale, forest namekos, velvet pioppini and brown clamshells. The one mushroom to avoid is the shiitake, which has an unmistakably Asian flavor that doesn’t fit well into Nana’s flavor profile.
If you can’t find turkey tenderloins, you can cut up a boneless turkey breast or substitute boneless, skinless chicken breast. This recipe is easily doubled, but you’ll have to transfer the browned turkey pieces and the mushroom-onion mixture to a large roasting pan for the final braising.
If you’re not making this for Passover, cornstarch may be used instead of potato starch. With cornstarch, you’ll need to add the cornstarch slurry to the dish and then bring the cooking broth to a boil.
Quick-Braised Turkey Tenderloins With Mushrooms and Onions
1½ pounds turkey tenderloins, cut into 2-to-3-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons peanut oil or olive oil
8 ounces yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1½ pounds assorted mushrooms, such as button, beech, oyster, king trumpet and/or king oyster, large mushrooms (do not use shiitakes)
½ cup dry white wine
2¼ cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
1½ tablespoons potato starch
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lay the turkey pieces in a single layer on a large sheet of foil or a large platter. Season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper, being generous with the latter.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, nonstick shallow braising pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add some of the turkey pieces to the pan, being careful not to crowd them. Cook the pieces for 5 to 6 minutes, turning to brown them on every available side. Transfer to a plate.
Once all of the turkey pieces have been browned, add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil to the pan. Add the sliced onions and 1/8 teaspoon of salt; reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, until the onions soften. Stir in the garlic; cook for 1 minute.
Prep the mushrooms by cutting the large ones into ½-inch-long strips; cut the small round ones in half and the larger round mushrooms into quarters; separate the beech mushrooms into small clusters.
Increase the heat to medium-high; add the mushrooms, and season lightly with pepper. (If they don’t all fit in the pan, cook them in batches.) The mushrooms will reduce in volume significantly as they cook. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring a few times, until they are lightly browned. Stir in the wine; cook for 3 minutes, until it has all but evaporated. Add 2 cups of the broth, then return the browned turkey pieces to the pan. Stir to blend.
Once the broth comes to a boil, cover the pan and transfer it to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then transfer to the stove top over low heat. The dish now can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to a day in advance.
Combine the potato starch with the remaining ¼ cup of the broth in a small bowl, stirring until the starch dissolves. Add to the pan and quickly stir to evenly distribute the mixture. The dish will slowly thicken. Do not let the broth come to a boil (unless you are substituting cornstarch for the potato starch).
Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve in shallow bowls, with the mushroom-onion mixture spooned over the turkey.
Per serving: 270 calories, 31 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar