Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

January 10, 2013

Turkey tenderloin is versatile, overlooked meat

It's a healthy alternative and pretty tender, too

If you think you've done nearly everything a cook can with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it might be time to talk turkey.

Other than the big bird at Thanksgiving and ground turkey when they're craving a virtuous burger, most people overlook turkey. And fair enough. Ground turkey can be dry and tasteless. And who has time to roast a bird (or even a massive breast) most nights of the week?

But the turkey tenderloin — a thick strip of meat cut from between the bird's breasts — turns out to be a convenient, delicious and healthy alternative. Because the tenderloin doesn't get much of a workout when the bird is alive, the meat is particularly tender. And like chicken breasts, it is incredibly versatile, taking well to the grill, skillet or oven, and working well with any flavor or marinade.

The tenderloins — which average anywhere between 8 ounces and 1 pound — also are agreeable to a variety of cuts. Slice them crosswise into medallions, lengthwise into tenders for breading and baking, or into chunks for stir-fry.

Because of their size, tenderloins also take well to being stuffed. Use a paring knife to cut a slit along one side into the meat (without going all the way through). This creates a pocket which can be filled with a blend of ricotta cheese, egg, herbs and chopped greens.

The real benefits of turkey tenderloins are the flavor and texture. Though they resemble chicken breasts, and can be used in just about any recipe that calls for them, the flavor is more robust and the texture more tender and moist.

You also save a few calories. A 4-ounce serving of turkey tenderloin has 130 calories and 0.5 grams of fat. The same serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast has 144 calories and nearly 6 grams of fat.

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