Turkish cuisine has taught us multiple ways to improve upon classic American dishes. A zestier version of Midwest pepper steak features thin slices of paprika-spiced beef and peppers simmered in a bright tomato sauce with earthy Aleppo pepper. Yogurt-spiked mashed potatoes are cooked twice — first boiled and then baked with a cheesy coating until puffy; a finishing drizzle of chili-infused butter adds nuanced richness. And a common egg salad skips the mayo in favor of a bright lemon vinaigrette and a handful of herbs and arugula.
Turkish Beef With Peppers and Tomatoes
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Saç kavurma is a Turkish dish of meat, typically lamb, quickly cooked with peppers, tomatoes, and a few fragrant spices. A saç is a wide metal pan shaped like a gently sloped wok in which the dish is cooked and served; kavurma refers to the cooking method of frying or sautéing. For our version of the dish, we use a standard 12-inch skillet in place of a saç, flat iron steak instead of lamb, and widely available pepper varieties rather than Turkish green peppers. The recipe otherwise is based on the saç kavurma made at Palamut restaurant, owned by Ali Osman Öztürk, in Sögüt, Turkey. The meat cooks quickly so it remains tender, and the peppers retain some of their crispness, while the fresh tomatoes break down just enough to create a light sauce that pools at the bottom. A combination of sweet paprika and mildly spicy, slightly smoky Aleppo pepper brings earthy flavor and a warm red hue, and a little butter pulls together all the flavors while adding a touch of richness. Serve with warmed flatbread or rice pilaf.
Prep all ingredients before heating the stove top; as with most stir-fries, the dish comes together quickly once cooking begins.
2 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil
1½ pounds flat iron steak, cut with the grain into strips about 2-inches wide, then sliced 1/8 - to ¼-inch thick against the grain
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 2 pieces, divided
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
1¼ teaspoons Aleppo pepper or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cubanelle or Anaheim pepper, stemmed, seeded, sliced into thin strips, and cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
1 medium red or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, sliced into thin strips, and cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
2 large ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
In a 12-inch skillet over high heat, warm the oil until barely smoking. Add the beef in an even layer and cook, without stirring, until browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion, 1 tablespoon butter, paprika, thyme, ½ teaspoon of the Aleppo pepper (or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes), and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper; stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is no longer pink and has released some of its juices, about 2 minutes.
Add the cubanelle and bell peppers and ½ teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated and the beef begins to sizzle, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and ‚ cup water; cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and the mixture is slightly saucy, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, then stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining ¾ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or the remaining ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes). Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve sprinkled with the oregano.
Turkish Mashed Potatoes With Garlic, Yogurt, and Cheese
Makes 6 to 8 servings
In Turkey, patates paçasi is a comforting dish of cheesy mashed potatoes seasoned with garlic and tangy yogurt. Traditionally, the dish incorporates kasar, a semi-firm sheep’s milk cheese, but since it’s difficult to source in the United States, we sought alternatives. We found that most melty cheeses, including mozzarella, cheddar, and Gruyère, work deliciously, and we encourage you to use your favorite.
The final touch is a drizzle of Aleppo pepper-infused butter, bringing both nuanced richness and earthy heat. For convenience, the mashed potatoes can be put into the baking dish without the cheese topping, cooled, covered with foil, and refrigerated a day in advance. When ready to bake, scatter the cheese onto the potatoes, re-cover with foil, and bake as directed.
The potatoes might look watery and thin when first mashed, but the pourable consistency is typical of patates paçasi. Once baked, the potatoes develop more structure, yet maintain a light, fluffy texture.
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
½ cup half-and-half
4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, divided
4 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces (1 cup) mozzarella, cheddar, or Gruyère cheese, shredded
1½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper or 1½ teaspoons sweet paprika plus 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Flaky sea salt, to serve (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the lower-middle position. In a colander under cold running water, rinse the potatoes. Drain well, then add to a large pot. Stir in 1 cup water and ½ teaspoon salt, then distribute the potatoes in an even layer and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce to medium-low heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes fall apart when poked with a skewer, 15 to 20 minutes. If there is water remaining in the pot, increase to medium-high and cook, uncovered and stirring often, until no moisture remains.
Remove from the heat and add the yogurt, half-and-half, and 2 tablespoons of the butter; mash with a potato masher until combined. The mixture will initially be very thin, but continue mashing until completely smooth and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, eggs, oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper; stir until well incorporated.
Transfer the potato mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish and distribute in an even layer. Top evenly with the cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and, using a fork, poke holes all over the surface of the potatoes. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the Aleppo pepper and cook, swirling, until the butter has taken on a reddish hue, about 1 minute. Drizzle evenly over the potatoes. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt (if using).
Turkish Egg Salad With Arugula and Herbs
Makes 4 to 6 servings
In the Turkish egg salad called nergisleme, herbs typically are tossed into the chopped eggs, and the whole mixture is seasoned with little more than olive oil and spicy chili. We take a slightly different approach, dressing a mixture of arugula and herbs with a lemon vinaigrette spiked with both sumac and Aleppo pepper (or paprika mixed with cayenne), which we then use as a bed for the eggs. Chopped, toasted walnuts add texture but are optional.
Be sure not to overcook the eggs. Steaming them for 11 minutes yields fully cooked but still creamy yolks. Make sure to transfer the eggs right away to an ice bath; this stops the cooking and also cools them quickly for easy peeling. Serve with warm flatbread.
8 large eggs
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ¾ teaspoon sweet paprika plus ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 5-ounce container baby arugula
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup lightly packed fresh dill, finely chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
Fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of water. Place a folding steamer basket in the pan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water is boiling, add the eggs, cover, and cook for 11 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with ice water.
While the eggs are cooking, in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, sumac, Aleppo pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Measure 2 tablespoons of the dressing into a small bowl. Set both bowls aside.
When the eggs are done, immediately transfer them to the ice bath and let stand until cooled, about 5 minutes. Peel the eggs and chop them into ¼-inch pieces; set aside.
Whisk the dressing in the large bowl to recombine. Add the arugula, scallions, and dill, then toss well. Transfer to a serving platter, creating a bed of greens, then top with the eggs. Drizzle the reserved dressing onto the eggs, then sprinkle with the walnuts (if using).
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to [email protected] .