Turkey Salad with Lemon, Capers, Mustard and Cornichons
Patricia Wells has been writing about Paris for decades, and put a lot of bakeries, restaurants, and really…anything food-related—on the map for visitors. And when Patricia recently invited me and some friends over for lunch in her well-equipped Paris cooking school kitchen to celebrate her new book on salads, I jumped at the chance (okay, I didn’t jump because people would have looked at me funny if I was jumping down the street in Paris…I rode a bike), even though I had just returned from a week of indulging the fine cuisine of Switzerland.
I was relieved when she served a lovely lunch which included – of course – several copious salads because I was stuffed from a week of eating everything from fondue to bacon. This one was particularly light, but really flavorful due to the big dose of cornichons, French mustard, and lemon juice in the dressing, making it perfect for summer. Please welcome this guest post and recipe from Patricia Wells. -David
The inspiration for the title of my latest book, Salad As A Meal, comes from the menu at Paris’s Brasserie Lipp, where in big, bold red letters the French menu proclaims in clear English: NO SALAD AS A MEAL.
As one who has long considered all manner of composed salads to make up a complete meal, it seemed natural to fiddle with Lipp’s pronouncement. In my house – and in the book — salads are dressed with light and lively dressings, and paired with soups, homemade breads, light egg dishes.
Paris provided a wealth of inspiration for the book, with a favorite Lobster Salad with Green Beans, Apple, and Avocado from Yves Camdeborde’s Le Comptoir; a Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado, Pistachios, and Pistachio Oil inspired the fabulous nut oils sold at the Leblanc family’s tiny shop right downstairs from my Paris studio/office/cooking school; and a Spring Salad of Asparagus, Peas, Beans and Fennel prompted by a trip to the Sunday morning organic farmer’s market on Boulevard Raspail.
To celebrate the book’s arrival, I recently created a Saturday afternoon lunch for a group of Parisian colleagues, including David (of course!), Alexander Lobrano, Clotilde Dusoulier, Meg Zimbeck, Susan Herrmann Loomis, and my assistant Emily Buchanan. On the menu? Starters of Hummous with Cumin Chips, and Cilantro-Flecked Heirloom Tomato Soup prepared with sweet and tangy tomatoes that appear in the Paris markets from February to May.
Once at the table, we feasted on a trio of varied salads: My Crab Salad with Lime and Avocado; a favorite Chicken Salad with Green Beans and Tahini-Yogurt-Lemon Dressing: and my students’ most popular Poached Turkey Breast Salad with Lemon, Capers, Cornichons, and Mint, a winner that will be sure to appear on picnic menus this summer.
All the while, we sipped the clean, crisp Inforescence 100% Pinot Noir Champagne from independent winemaker Cedric Bouchard; the crowd pleasing Domaine Ostertag Riesling 2009 Vignoble d’E; and the light and fruity Martinelle, a 2008 Cotes de Ventoux from lady winemaker Corinna Kryse.
Since there are no desserts in my salad book, I had to steal from one of my next books and prepared two seasonal favorites: a chilled Red Fruit Soup prepared with Gariguette strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and Mara de Bois strawberries. I paired it with a colorful Raspberry Yogurt Sorbet that received an emphatic WOW! as it was served to each guest.
Poached Turkey Breast Salad with Lemon, Capers, Mustard, Cornichons, and Mint
Used with permission from Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells
This is a great summer salad and makes enough for a crowd. It’s also best made in advance, making it perfect for entertaining guests. I’ve added some notes at the end of the recipe. -dl
- 1 boneless turkey breast (about 4 pounds, 2kg)
- 1 large onion, halved (do not peel), stuck with 2 cloves
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- A 1-inch (3cm) knob of fresh ginger, peeled
- 4 plump, moist cloves garlic, peeled, halved, and green germ removed
- 6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Grated zest of 2 lemons, preferably organic
1/2 cup (125ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (250ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 small spring onions or scallions, trimmed, peeled, and cut into very thin slices
24 cornichons, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (90g) capers in vinegar, drained
1/2 cup (20g) fresh mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade (for garnish)
1. Place the turkey breast in a 6-quart (6l) stock pot and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch (3cm). Remove the turkey to a platter. Add the onion, carrots, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, ginger, garlic, and vinegar to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully lower the turkey into the pot. Reduce heat to a bare simmer, and poach, covered, for 1 1/4 hours.
2. Remove the pot from the heat and cool the turkey in the liquid, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
3. Drain the turkey and discard the poaching liquid and solids.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, oil, and mustard. Stir in the spring onions, cornichons, and capers.
5. Place the turkey in a sturdy resealable plastic bag and pour the marinated into the bag. Seal the bag and turn it back and forth to evenly coat the turkey with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
6. At serving time, remove the turkey from the bag and place on a cutting board. With a very sharp chef’s knife, slice the turkey crosswise into thin slices. Moisten the turkey slices with the marinade. Garnish with the mint and serve.
David’s Notes: I adapted Patricia’s marvelous recipe a bit since the original recipe calls for 4-pounds of turkey breast and serves twelve people, and that many people won’t fit in my apartment at the same time. Here’s my notes:
1. I cut the recipe in half and used a 2-pound (1kg) turkey breast. The poaching time was 1 hour.
2. I reduced the olive oil to 1/3 cup for the half recipes. (2/3 cup if you are making the recipe as is.)
3. If you don’t want to use a plastic bag, marinate the turkey in a shallow baking dish, turning it frequently while it’s marinating.
4. You could save the poaching liquid and use it as a soup base. I tasted it and the vinegar wasn’t discernible. So taste it and if it’s to your liking, feel free to reserve it for another use.
5. I didn’t use fresh mint as a garnish even though I have some growing outside my window. I keep finding pigeon feathers in it, so I’m wary of using it.
6. Leftovers are great sliced into strips and tossed with grated raw vegetables with some of the dressing and pickles, and I made a quick – and tasty – lunch salad from them.
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