Friday, December 30, 2011

Smoked Turkey Pasta Salad with (Highbush) Cranberry Apple Butter

What is it with this dish? It's really weird, but super delicious. Borderline addictive. Smoked turkey atop noodles over a bed of lettuce. It doesn't sound that good. But the strong flavors are refreshingly unique, and surprisingly cohesive.

(Highbush) cranberry-apple butter
My, how I love highbush cranberries. They have that earthy, skunky smell that is so quintessentially fall. I've made killer syrup and liqueur from wild Yukon cranberry. Yum. This time, I didn't have the wild variety in store, so I used fresh domestic cranberries. The result was still good, but my mouth waters thinking about how much richer the flavor would be with wild highbush.

Interestingly, the Fiddlehead debunks a longstanding belief about highbush cranberries which is that you wait until after a frost to harvest them. On the contrary, FH recommends picking them before they freeze and mush/rot.

This butter is a concentrated, smooth, spiced fruit spread. The recipe makes a large quantity using a pound of dried apple and four cups of cranberry. The yield is about four pint jars of the tasty condiment.

Start by soaking apples in water for an hour:

Mix in the cranberries and heat, then add spices:

Strain out seeds and skins through a sieve. Save the pulp and measure it to know how much sugar to add (you'll need 3/4 the quantity of sugar as pulp):

The butter is so smooth. Take a look at the pan on the left pictured below:

Pour it into canning jars:

Seal the jars according to directions. A pressure cooker would be easier, and my pot wasn't quite big enough:

Smoked turkey pasta salad

Luckily, Jerry's Meats sells delicious smoked turkey in reasonable quantity:

Tear the turkey in pieces:
Chop tomato and green onion; shred carrot:

Prepare a batch of Fiddlehead vinaigrette and toss into cooked fettuccine noodles (I used this sprouted whole grain--read hippie food--noodle that was hearty and great). Next toss in your chopped vegetables:

Plate your meal by setting the dressed noodles on a bed of lettuce. Top with turkey and dollop with the cranberry-apple butter. (Note: plating was inspired by an episode of 'Chopped.')

Serve & enjoy! The richness of the smoked turkey pairs well with the sharpness of the vinaigrette and fruit butter. This is a creative way to eat up holiday leftovers, but is delectable anytime of year.

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