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My BFF Chris and her family came to visit us this summer. They live in Chicago. She’s a city girl and infinitely cooler than I can ever hope to be.  I love that girl. She fuels my thrifting obsession, and cooks so much she makes me look I feed my family cereal every night for dinner.

Which I did for the past two nights, so I guess that isn’t too far off.

Girlfriend’s got MAD cooking skills! Yep, all caps. She’s that good.  So it will probably come as no surprise that when she comes to visit we cook and eat ourselves into a stupor.  The sweet men that we married smile at us,  roll their eyes at each other, and laugh as we throw ideas back and forth and see what we can come up with for good eats.

Then they happily eat every bite.

See, when Chris comes up, I only loosely plan a menu because I know she’s going to come with a cooler full of ingredients and ideas about what we should do with them.

Isn’t that awesome?

Basically, any ideas I had about our menu goes out the window after our requisite trip to the farmers market. We tend to come home with still more food.  But sometimes. Sometimes, she comes with an idea that is practically assembled. When she does that I get really excited because I know it’s going to be good. At which point I step out of the kitchen and let her make the magic happen.

That is the sign of a great friend: someone you can let have free reign in your kitchen, without reservation. And someone that lets me take ridiculous self portraits of us and post them on the internet.  Hey, Chris! 

But back to the food. Chris brought up the fixin’s for these amazing pot stickers. She fried them up, raided my pantry, then whipped up an equally amazing dipping sauce. I unabashedly ate at least 17 of them.  I begged her for the recipe.  Then she gave me that look, and I knew. I knew!

There was no recipe. She just threw it all together.  The single most delicious pot stickers that I’ve eaten in years, and I was stuck without a recipe.  Crap.

The other day I was daydreaming about Chris’s pot stickers, and wishing she had written down her genius.  In the midst of feeling sorry for myself, I thought NO! Would Chris be moping around craving food and lamenting the lack of recipe? Absolutely not. So I said to myself “Self. You can at least try.” So try I did.

And they were good!

My version of Chris's awesomeness: Turkey Pot Stickers with an Orange-Chili Dipping Sauce.

DO try this at home!

I apologize in advance for the lack of cast shot and relatively haphazard step-by-step. I started throwing stuff together, and just had a feeling that it was all going to work out, so I grabbed my big girl camera in the middle of the process and started snapping shots when I remembered.

Which explains why the first shot is of a pound of lean ground turkey, a little grated onion, and the zest of one orange.

Thaw out a brick of frozen chopped spinach. I think it comes in 10 ounce frozen cubes.  Place the spinach in a mesh strainer set over a bowl. Push, squeeze, wring out, or whatever you have to do to get the excess water out of the spinach.  Then give the already chopped spinach another chopping to mince it up a bit.

Plop the spinach on top of the turkey, and add a couple of eggs, a little soy sauce, some garlic powder, and a dribble of sesame oil.  Don’t worry, I do include actual measurements in the recipe. :)

Knead, squeeze, and mush it all together until everything is well combined.  Behold! Pot sticker filling! The filling is basically meatball makings.

Get out a stack of won-ton wrappers. Won-ton wrappers are like thin squares of pasta used for dumplings, pot stickers, even ravioli. I find mine in the refrigerated section of the produce department at my grocery store.

Have a cup of water handy, and grab your measuring spoons. Scoop a teaspoon of filling toward the middle of a won-ton wrapper.

Dip a finger in the water, and run that finger around the edges of the wrapper.

Take a corner of the wrapper, and pull it up and over the filling, joining the opposite corner, and forming a neat triangle.  Press the edges of the triangle to seal, trying to “burp” any air out of the center.

Son #2 thought it was hilarious when I told him I was burping our dinner.

Keep filling, folding, burping, and sealing the pot stickers, putting them on a plate when complete, until all of the filling has been used.  This recipe makes a pile o’ pot stickers. Like about 60. If that’s more than you need, you can always halve the recipe. Or better yet, make the pile, and freeze the extras. Or even better than that, make the pile and invite your friends to dinner.

But before the dinner party begins, make the sauce. Whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, juice from the orange you zested, a clove of minced garlic, and a couple of dashes of chili oil until combined. Sprinkle in a pinch of dried red pepper flakes, if you can take the heat.

What is sesame oil and/or chili oil, you ask? Sesame oil is made from pressed sesame seeds, with a strong flavor.  A little goes a long way. Chili oil is a spicy, chili-infused oil used in Asian cooking.  I find both sesame and chili oil in the Asian section of my local grocery store.  I recommend making the effort to source these oils because they add a nice depth of flavor to the dish.

Preheat the oven to the “warm” setting (about 170° F.) Set a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet and set it aside.

Grab the largest skillet you’ve got, and pour a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in it. (My skillet is 12-inches in diameter.)  The goal here is not to be sauteing pot stickers until the cows come home.  I want to eat, man!

Turn the heat on to medium-high. Working in batches, place as many pot stickers in the pan as will fit.  Don’t be afraid to crowd them a bit–just make sure they don’t touch or they’ll stick together.  Saute the pot stickers until they are nice and brown on the bottom–about 3 minutes.

Once the bottoms are good and brown, flip the pot stickers and continue cooking them until the other side is a nice golden brown–about 3 more minutes.  Once the pot stickers have browned on both sides, the filling should be cooked through.  Place the cooked pot stickers onto the prepared baking sheet, and tent them with aluminum foil.  Put the foil-tented-pot-stickers-on-the-prepared-baking-sheet into the warm oven to…well…keep them warm while you fry up the rest of  ‘em.

Serve the hot Turkey Pot Stickers immediately with the Orange-Chili Dipping Sauce.

I’ll be honest…I was so hungry after making the pot stickers that I just cooked up a pot of jasmine rice and called it a meal.  But Chris would probably scoff at my egregious lack of vegetables in the meal. She might serve the pot stickers with rice, steamed vegetables, and a big salad.  I meant to do that, but I was too hungry to follow through.  ;)

Now, I realize that this recipe makes a veritable boatload lot of pot stickers. Feel free to halve the recipe. Or..OR!

  1. Make all of the pot stickers.
  2. Chow down.
  3. Then once the leftovers have cooled, layer them in single layers between sheets of waxed paper, and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.

That way, the next time you have a hankerin’ for pot stickers, you won’t have to lament the fact that your BFF isn’t there to make them for you and have to take matters into your own hands. :)

Turkey Pot Stickers with Orange-Chili Dipping Sauce

http://comfortablydomestic.com

Makes 60 pot stickers (recipe can be halved and/or frozen)

For the Pot Stickers:

1 lb. lean ground turkey

Zest from 1 orange (about 1- 1 ½ heaping tablespoons.)

1 ½ C. frozen chopped spinach, thawed

¼ C. finely grated onion

2 eggs

2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce

¼ tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. sesame oil

60 wonton wrappers*

Water for sealing wonton wrappers

2-4 tsp. Olive Oil for sautéing

For the Dipping Sauce:

3 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil**

1 clove of garlic, peeled & minced

¼ C. freshly squeezed orange juice

Dash or two of chili oil (to taste)***

Pinch of dried red pepper flakes, optional

To Assemble the Pot Stickers:

  1. Place the thawed spinach into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Push the spinach against the sides of the strainer to squeeze as much water as possible out of it.  Further chop the spinach with a sharp knife, to mince; momentarily set aside.
  2. Then, combine ground turkey, spinach, orange zest, grated onion, eggs, soy sauce, garlic powder, and sesame oil in a large bowl. Knead the meat mixture until well combined. This is the filling for the pot stickers.
  3. Remove the wonton wrappers from the package, and set them onto a clean cutting board.
  4. Place a cup of water onto the cutting board.
  5. Take one wonton wrapper, and scoop 1 tsp. of the filling and deposit it near the center of the wrapper.
  6. Dip an index finger in water, and run it along the edges of the wrapper to moisten.
  7. Pick up one corner of the wrapper, pulling it over the filling, and to the opposite corner of the wrapper, forming a triangle. Press the edges of the triangle to seal.
  8. Place the finished pot sticker onto a clean plate.  Continue filling, folding, and sealing each wonton wrapper until all of the filling and wrappers have been used.  I usually get about 60 pot stickers out of the recipe.

For the Dipping Sauce:

  1. Whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, orange juice, and minced garlic in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Add a few dashes of chili oil, and if using, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir.
  3. Set sauce aside while cooking the pot stickers. (Stir before serving.)

To Cook the Pot Stickers:

  1. Preheat the oven to the “warm” setting. (Usually about 170 degrees F.) Line a baking sheet with a wire cooling rack; set aside.
  2. Place a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. (12-inch + skillets work well)
  3. Pour 2 teaspoons of olive oil into the skillet.
  4. Working in batches, arrange the pot stickers in the pan, close together, but not touching. Increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until the bottoms are golden brown. (About 2-3 minutes) Watch carefully to ensure the pot stickers don’t burn. Adjust heat, if needed.
  5. Turn the pot stickers over, and continue to heat until the other side is golden brown, and filling is cooked through. (About 3 more minutes)
  6. Transfer cooked pot stickers to the prepared baking sheet, and tent with foil. Place the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm.
  7. Continue to sauté the rest of the pot stickers, until done, adding more olive oil as necessary.
  8. Serve immediately with the orange-chili dipping sauce.

NOTES:  This recipe makes about 12 dozen pot stickers. Cooked pot stickers can be frozen up to 3 months. Just allow them to cool completely before layering them between sheets of waxed paper and placing them in a freezer container.  Recipe may also be halved.  Pot stickers are great as an appetizer, or make it a meal by also serving alongside cooked jasmine rice, and steamed vegetables.

*Wonton wrappers are 2 x 2 inch thin sheets of pasta used in Asian cooking to make dumplings, pot stickers, and the like; I usually find wonton wrappers in the refrigerated section of the produce or deli areas of the grocery store.

**Sesame oil has a flavor unique from other cooking oils. It can be found in the Asian area of the grocery store, or with the other cooking oils. Sesame oil can be pricey, but a little goes a long way, and it keeps forever.

***Chili oil is also found in the Asian area of the grocery store, or with the other cooking oils. Chili oil packs some heat, so a few dashes will do for most recipes. The flavor is worth the addition.

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