Seems like I know a lot of folks who are swearing off grains. While I'm not gonna be joining you on the no grains train I could certainly do better on the "everything in moderation front". Probably, I eat enough grain-based stuff I'm a line item on Archer Daniels Midland's annual revenue report.
And Minneapolis, despite pretending to be Southern California for about 10 days here in the middle of February, finally remembered, "shit...I'm really, really so very North" and dropped down into the teens and twenties where it belongs this time of year.
And, and...I hadn't gone nuts whipping together something eggy...eggish...egg-laden...in quite a long spell.
I'd gone to bed thinking "red pepper and potato frittata". I woke up thinking, "meh".
So...what did I want?
I wanted something without grains that was still substantial. Like, it'd get you through the day. I wanted eggs. I wanted lots of flavor. I wanted interesting enough spices that the whole house would smell warm and kind of exotic. Did some Googling, stole some ideas, thought about it a bit. Here's what I got...
Ground Turkey and Roast Chickpea Scramble
2 160z cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
5-6 garlic cloves, minced to a paste
1/2 Anaheim Chile, minced
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (about 1/4 tsp if already ground)
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Sambal Olek
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
8oz ground turkey (the least lean you can find)
salt and pepper
8 eggs, beaten within an inch of their lives
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Let's making something stupid good...
Fire up the oven to 450. Drain the two cans of chickpeas. Rinse then thoroughly. Drain them again. Put a kitchen towel down on a rimmed baking sheet and then use some paper towels to dab the chickpeas and soak up as much water as you can. They're not going to be completely dry but since we want a little bit of crunch from these let's reduce the moisture as much as possible so they don't steam and get mushy. Carefully, slide the towel out from under the chickpeas. Drizzle on the olive oil and hit them with salt and pepper. Use your hands (or a spoon or spatula if you insist of being civilized) to toss it well and then spread it evenly over the baking sheet. Throw them in for 25 minutes. You want them golden brown and crispy. If they're not quite crispy, drizzle on some more olive oil and throw them back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so. Just check on them occasionally. When they're done, set the sheet aside and let them cool.
While the chickpeas are a-roasting, put a small skillet over medium heat. Throw in the tbsp of olive oil. Using your knife or a mortar and pestle, first mince the garlic. Add a good dash of salt and grind it into a paste. Throw the cumin and paprika into a grinder and give them a good whiz. Throw that into the garlic paste and mash a bit more. Mince the chile pepper, add it to the paste and give it a another smack around for a few seconds with the back of the knife or the mortar and pestle. Add this mashup to the skillet. Give it a good stir and let it bloom. After a couple of minutes it will smell heavenly.
Big Ass Important Note (BAIN) #1: Some people like the chile pepper because of the heat. I like them for the weird but wonderful combination of earthy and fruity. I used an Anaheim pepper, which is really mild so that earthy/fruity thing comes out. If you want it hotter just walk up the ladder to jalapeño, Serrano, red Fresno, whatever.
Once you hit the heavenly stage, grab a heaping tbsp of Sambal Olek...like a great, manly tbsp... a tbsp that's so heaping that it's really 2 tbsp. Throw it in. Give it a good stir and let it go for another minute. Add the water and let it go for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Give it a good stir every now and then (generally, cooking some spices and a paste is like having a high maintenance significant other...you gotta give it a little attention and reassurance or it gets bitter and angry really fast). Remove it from the heat and set it aside.
About now, get a good-sized non-stick skillet going over medium-high heat.
We've got some flavor, some spices, some heat. From the roasting chickpeas we're gonna get some good rich umami happening. We need something to punch through that and give it a little brightness and burst. So, while the skillet is heating up, thinly slice the red onion and drop it all in a bowl. Pour over the 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar and add a healthy pinch of salt and sugar. Toss it well and set it aside. We're doing a quick pickle of the onion. You're gonna thank me for this.
Add the rest of the olive oil to the skillet and throw in the ground turkey. Hit it with some salt and pepper and let it brown, occasionally breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon and give it a few good stirs. While that's going on, crack the eggs into a big bowl, grab a whisk, and beat the beejeesus out of them. Remember that guy that used to bully you when you were twelve? The one who had a beard and mustache already. And muscles. Yeah - the eggs are him. Get all those years of latent rage out.
As I was about to add the eggs it occurred to me that I was getting ahead of myself. I grabbed the spice paste, threw that in with the turkey and added a tbsp of red wine vinegar to even it out. Gave it a good stir and let it all cook together for a minute. Then, in with the eggs.
With the eggs, you'll want to be in pretty constant motion. You want them to cook up into soft curds but not brown or fully set. Keep stirring, getting the eggs mixed with the turkey and the spices. This is, if I'm honest, kind of an ugly dish. But, damn it's gonna come out good.
As the eggs get good and curded up, quickly chop the hell out of the cilantro and fold it in. Take the dish off the heat and set aside.
Plate this up with a couple of big spoonfuls and then garnish with a handful or two of the chickpeas and a healthy handful of the pickled onions. You want plenty of the vinegar dripping off them.
Ugly though it may be, the rich and heavy flavors of the egg and turkey mix with the heat of the paste, the fresh burst of the cilantro, and the crunch of the chickpeas really nicely. And then the acidic-sweet burst of the pickled onions opens it up and balances it out.
No grains. Plenty of heft. Ton of flavor.