Turkey Pudding

Hındı Göğsü

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This is a kind of answer to the question, ‘Do they cook with turkey in Turkey?’ The normal answer is ‘not often’, and then only on New Year’s Eve in westernised families. There is, however, a traditional Ottoman desert called tavuk göğsü, apparently with ancient Roman origins, that uses shredded chicken breast. I decided to see if turkey breast would work as well.

But first let’s talk about the bird. It originated in South America, and the first Europeans who saw it thought it was a form of guineafowl—a game bird they imagined came from Turkey. So they brought it to England under the name ‘turkey fowl’. The French thought it came from India, so they called it dinde (which translates as ‘from India’). When the bird first arrived in Turkey, it was known as ‘Egyptian fowl’, but the Turks later followed the French and ‘corrected’ the name to hindi, which means ‘Indian’. In India, the bird is called peru, which is the closest to its real origin.

Anyway, the bird under any name works better than chicken in this dish, because of its bland taste, and we can safely call this a turkey pudding as well as a Turkey pudding.

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Ingredients

  • 1 turkey breast (the fresher the better)
  • 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 220 g ( oz/1 cup) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 pieces mastic crystal
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

Wash the breast under cold running water for 2 minutes. Pat dry with paper towel, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

Put the frozen turkey breast in a saucepan, cover with water and boil for 50 minutes over medium heat until fully cooked. Transfer the turkey to a bowl of iced water for 1½ hours. Change the iced water every half hour, rinsing the breast each time. Put the turkey in the freezer for 1 hour to chill. Remove and set aside for 1 hour.

Shred the rested turkey meat into hair-thin pieces, discarding any thicker, tougher shreds. (It’s no problem if you have to discard half the breast.)

Put the milk in a large saucepan. Slit the vanilla pod and add to the milk. Add the sugar. Warm for 5 minutes over medium heat. Scoop 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of the milk into a bowl, add the cornflour and rice flour and whisk to combine. Pour the flour mixture into the pan, constantly whisking. Add the butter and mastic, and whisk for 2 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the vanilla pod and discard. Add the turkey shreds. Whisk for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into a 20 × 30 cm (8 × 12 in) baking tray and rest in the fridge for 3 hours to set.

Remove the tray from the fridge. You should now have a soft rectangular mat. Slice along the mat, once, and across the mat twice, to make six slabs. Transfer the slabs onto six plates. Use a spatula to fold each slab in half. Decorate with cinnamon powder and serve cold.