Turkey is not just for the Thanksgiving table anymore. Everywhere we look, turkey products are appearing. Turkey Italian sausage, turkey ham, turkey hot dogs, turkey brats, ground turkey, turkey bologna - the list goes on.
For desperate cooks, especially those counting fat grams, this is good news. Turkey products can mean as much as a 40 percent reduction in fat compared with their traditional counterparts. Today's recipe for Radiatore with Italian Turkey Sausage would contain 17 grams of fat per serving if it were prepared with regular Italian sausage. That's just enough to put the percentage of calories from fat over the 30 percent recommended by health professionals. As it is, the turkey alternative means today's pasta recipe has only 10 grams of fat. That's 22 percent of calories from fat overall.
The ease with which turkey products can be substituted for pork products in your favorite recipes is amazing. The only difference you'll notice is the amount of grease the turkey sausage will release. Since turkey is drier than pork sausage, be sure to use a non-stick skillet.
Many products have turkey as a main ingredient, but are actually blends with some pork and beef included. If you're on a red-meat restricted diet, read the label to get the full story.
Radiatore with Italian Turkey Sausage
RADIATORE WITH ITALIAN TURKEY SAUSAGE
12 ounces radiatore or other short pasta (see notes)
1 1/4 pounds Italian-style turkey sausage, sweet or hot (see notes)
1 large onion (for 1 cup chopped)
2 large green bell peppers (for 3 cups chopped)
1 large red bell pepper (for 1 1/2 cups chopped)
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
Bring 2 1/2 quarts of unsalted water to a boil in a covered 4 1/2 -quart or larger Dutch oven or soup pot. When the water reaches a rapid boil, add the pasta and cook until firm-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. (If not using radiatore, check cooking times on the pasta box or bag.)
Meanwhile, use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut the casing off the sausage links. Discard casing. Place the sausage in an extra-deep, 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat. Stir to break up the links. When the pan gets hot and the sausage starts to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-high.
While the sausage cooks, peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the pan as you chop. Continue to stir and break up the sausage meat from time to time. Rinse and seed the green peppers, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the skillet. Rinse and seed the red pepper and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the skillet.
Add the garlic to the pan and stir well. Continue to stir and break up the sausage meat until it is no longer pink.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander placed in the sink. Shake the colander to remove as much water as possible. Pour the pasta back into the cooking pot or into a large serving bowl. Pour the sausage mixture and its juices into the pot or bowl with the pasta. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top. Stir to mix well. Serve at once. Serves 6.
Cook's notes: In Italian, "radiatore" means "little radiators," and that's exactly what this short pasta with rippled edges looks like. Not too long ago, radiatore was only found in specialty stores. Now it's even sold under the house brand at our local supermarket.
Italian turkey sausage is usually found alongside Italian pork sausage in stores. Some brands may be leaner than others. If your sausage happens to stick to the pan while cooking, add a teaspoon or so of olive oil or a little water. Fans of spicy foods may want to use hot sausage.
Send us desperate tales of woe or everyday success stories and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.