This is a wonderful salad, packed full of flavor. It is soooooooo good. Everyone loved it and commented how the cherries cut through the smokiness of the meat and balanced out the salad. The hazelnuts gave it a nutty flavor and nice textural crunch. This is a salad you will definitely like.
A while back I wrote a post on pickled cherries 2 ways and pointed out how delightfully tasty they are. We liked them so much, I made a double batch 3 weeks later so I could have cherries when the season had long passed. A double batch made a little over 2-1/2 pints. Now, with so many pickled cherries, I had to do something with them besides eat them with charcuterie plates. Don’t get me wrong because there is nothing wrong with eating these with a charcuterie plate, a sandwich or whatever you want to eat them with. They really are spectacular all by themselves. Still, I wanted to make something with them. I contemplated a nice crown roast of Elk but Baby Lady doesn’t eat red meat. So, that got nixed. She’s also not very fond of duck. Hmmmm… I thought a little longer pondering the reality of creativeness (or lack thereof at the time) when it finally dawned on me. Baby Lady loves smoked turkey legs and so does everyone else. You have the beautiful smokiness and flavor from the brine with the sweet turkey meat. The pickled cherries would be a perfect compliment to the smoked turkey legs. The acid would help cut the smokiness and the sweetness would go beautifully with the turkey flavor and brine. On top of that, I love to play with the smoker. So, off to the store I went to buy some turkey legs. I bought 6. Then I brined them for 6 hours in a very nice brine. Into the smoker they went for another 6 hours at a very low 240 F. After smoking I put the turkey legs into the fridge to cool. The next day I pulled all of the meat off the legs, diced it and made this beautiful Smoked Turkey Salad with Pickled Bing Cherries, Roasted Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese.This is what we did.
For the Salad
- 2 lbs smoked turkey leg meat, chopped
- 1-1/3 cup green onion, chopped
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp pickled cherry juice
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 pint pickled cherries, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts (filberts), chopped
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper – optional
- mixed greens
- 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
For the Vinaigrette
- 6 Tbsp high quality olive oil
- 3 Tbsp pickled cherry juice
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme
- salt & pepper to taste
Once you get everything set up, this really is a no brainer. First things first, make the salad itself. Start by putting the diced turkey in a large bowl. You’ve seen this bowl multiple times. It’s a multi-purpose pasta, salad, whatever I want it to be bowl. 🙂 Tell the truth, we all have one of these – no both this particular bowl but an all purpose, multi use bowl.
After adding the turkey to the bowl, add the green onions.
Now, add the celery
followed by the thyme
and then the mayonnaise.
Stir to incorporate. You don’t want the salad dry but you also don’t want it moist. As Goldilocks once said, you want it “just right.”
This is because you are going to add the tablespoon or so of cherry juice to the salad at this point. You want the salad to bind but you want to reinforce the flavors. This is going to be smokey, cherrylicious. 😉
Now add the chopped pickled cherries. These are soooooo good. 🙂
Add a little texture by adding the crushed/chopped hazelnuts.
Baby Lady loves her chiles, so add the crushed red pepper to your liking.
Now, make the vinaigrette. Add the cherry juice to a container.
Next, add the thyme,
followed by the olive oil.
Now, add the freshly ground black pepper and
a good pinch of salt.
Put the mixed greens on a dinner plate. Using a ring mold, spoon the salad into the ring.
Crumble the goat cheese around the salad and greens.
Spoon a little vinaigrette around the greens.
Serve & enjoy!! We really did enjoy this salad and you will, too.
NOTES: Now, you don’t have to smoke the turkey legs yourself to make this salad. I just like to play with my smoker. If you don’t have a smoker there are a variety of places that sell smoked turkey legs. This is also a great way to use leftover smoked turkey from Thanksgiving.