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With turkey season upon us, I couldn't resist creating one of our cherished family culinary traditions. This week, I decided to prepare the much-loved Salvadoran classic: "Pan con Chumpe," which translates to Turkey Sandwich. This dish has always been a comforting presence at our family gatherings, especially during Christmas Eve, New Year's dinner, or whenever we crave its delicious flavors. I truly believe it’s a healthier choice compared to other comfort sandwiches in the market.
In El Salvador, many cooks rely on their intuition and experience, often judging the meat's doneness by sight, feel, and time. This approach sometimes results in dry meat, and this challenge inspired me to experiment with the cooking process. I focused not just on time but on achieving the perfect juicy meat, by temperature.
This time, I opted for turkey breasts, a choice influenced by the four turkey breasts we had sitting in our fridge for a while. To enhance the flavor, I sprayed a bit of duck fat and generously coated the turkey breasts with Tina Cannon’s European Blend Rub. The backyard smelled amazing with the turkey being smoked with FOGO Charcoal and bourbon barrel wood chip, it was even better than expected!
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PERFECT SMOKED TURKEY BREAST:
- Light up grill with FOGO Charcoal and add Bourbon Barrel Wood Chunks.
- Set internal temperature to 225°F (107°C).
- Spray with duck fat, coat generously on all sides with Tina Cannon's European Blend Rub. The more the merrier.
- Place on grill, smoke for around 3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Use a water container to prevent dryness.
Rest and Serve:
- Rest for 5 minutes, slice, and serve.
Now, let's talk about the heart of this sandwich – the vegetables. Freshly pickled veggies, including crisp cucumbers, vibrant radishes, and zesty red onions, added a delightful crunch and a burst of color. Combined with the juicy turkey, each bite became a symphony of textures and flavors.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PERFECT PICKLED VEGGIES:
- Cut cauliflower into small florets; cook briefly in boiling water, ensuring they remain crunchy. Set aside.
- Slice green beans, carrots, onions, and green peppers.
Sauté and Pickle:
- Sauté sliced vegetables in a little oil until they are still crunchy.
- Add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and 3 cups of water to the sautéed veggies.
- Thoroughly mix in all the dry spices: sesame seeds, bay leaves, guaco chili, squash seeds, peanuts, ground annatto, oregano, and thyme (known as "relajo" in El Salvador).
Combine and Rest:
- Mix all the vegetables together and cover to allow the flavors to meld. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar to balance the sourness.
- Incorporate the cooked cauliflower into the pickled vegetable mix.
- Let it rest and remove excess liquid.
- Stir in yellow mustard for a tangy flavor and to give the mixed veggies a yellow color.
And how could I forget the pièce de résistance – the Salvadoran Pan con Chumpe sauce! This secret blend of flavors, passed down through generations, elevated the entire sandwich. It perfectly complemented the rich flavors of the turkey and the crunch of the veggies, transforming a humble sandwich into a gastronomic delight.
The Pan Con Chumpe sauce is like a treasured family secret recipe. I'm playing with the idea of sharing it in the near future, but the decision is still simmering. Stay tuned!
Taking the first bite, I marveled at how incredible cooking can be. Mixing old recipes with new ideas breathes new life into our traditional dishes, connecting us to our family traditions and allowing us to explore new culinary adventures. Cooking becomes a celebration of flavors, uniting the old and the new, making our meals truly special and exciting.
So, the next time you step into the kitchen, let your spirit guide you. Don't just follow the recipe – infuse it with your creativity, experiment with flavors, and discover a world of culinary wonders waiting to be explored.
Until next time, happy kooking! Enjoy your meail, or as we say in El Salvador, ¡Buen provecho!