Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ragout of Lentils, Turkey Meatballs, and Mint

Now, in most cases, ground turkey seems to be one of those “meh-schmeh” kinds of meat. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good turkey burger—but I’m not generally racing to my kitchen because I have ground turkey in the fridge. This recipe has changed all of that. It not only tastes wonderful, but it also uses ingredients that I almost always have on hand.  

First of all, however, I have to make an embarrassing confession of an action not befitting any sort of erudite housewife.  I have looked at and made several “ragout” recipes. But, somehow, I never realized it was a French term, pronounced “ra-goo”.  Yes, I have indeed been reading “rag-out,” as in, “I need to wring this rag out.” I always felt it to be a bit rustic, but in a world of gumbo and hash (as in, country chicken hash, of course), what’s odd about a rag-out?  Somehow, along the way, Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag started playing in my mind and I subconsciously formed a whole etymology of “rag-out.” In my opinion (because clearly, these sort of things can be based on opinion), a rag-out is a colloquialism combining “rag-tag,” and pulling everything thing out of your pantry. It’s a  mishmash where you throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that—whatever you have on hand—and simmer it together into warm, home-y goodness.

Now, to turn my faux pas into an educational experience, I ask,  what is a ragout? According to the Food Network, a ragout is “A derivative of the French verb ragoûter, meaning "to stimulate the appetite," ragoût is a thick, rich, well-seasoned stew of meat, poultry or fish that can be made with or without vegetables."  

I guess I wasn’t so far off. Nonetheless, this is has been the most eventful enunciatory epiphany I’ve had since the fifth grade, when I realized that “ron-day-voo” and “ren-dez-vous” were the same word. I need to learn French, but not knowing it definitely provides an opportunity to laugh and not take myself so seriously. 
Now, here is this wonderful recipe.

Ragout of Lentils, Turkey Meatballs and Mint
(This is from the Williams and Sonoma Beans and Rice Cookbook)

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken, lamb or beef)
1 c. bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic minced, (you need 4 cloves in all, however)
3 T. fresh mint for meatballs, (5 T for garnish at the end)
2 T. fresh parsley,
1 t. paprika,
¾ t. ground cumin,
½ t. ground cloves,
¼ t. cayenne pepper
¾ t. salt
½ t. pepper.
¼ c. olive oil
1 chopped small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small diced carrot
1 c. lentils
1 can whole plum tomatoes, juiced reserved and tomatoes chopped
4 c. chicken stock

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients from ground turkey to pepper. Make 24 meatballs and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.

2.Warm ¼ c. olive oil in large sauté pan. Add chopped small onion, diced carrot, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté until onion is soft over medium heat. Add lentils, 1 c. reserved juice from can of whole plum tomatoes and chicken stock. Simmer until lentils are tender, around 20 min.

3. Chop tomatoes, add them and reserved meatballs to the pot and simmer 15 minutes. Season to taste. Garnish with 5 T. mint. 


  1. That sounds wonderful! And I *love* your etymology of the word "ragout" :)

  2. Maybe you should just learn IPA, and cover more than one language. Your post made me laugh, and I really needed a laugh tonight! Thanks!