The secret’s in the sauce

The trouble with light entrees is that low-fat proteins generally are at the heart of the dish. While this is great for your health, it often is wanting in flavour.

The right sauce can help make a healthy but sometimes bland piece of meat intensely flavorful. The sauce for this sauteed turkey breast with fresh cherry sauce starts with the fond left after cooking the turkey and uses fresh cherries to create a sweet and savory entrée.

The trouble with light entrees is that low-fat proteins generally are at the heart of the dish. While this is great for your health, it often is wanting in flavour.

How to make it work? The secret can be in the sauce.

As long as you don’t go crazy with the butter and cream, sauces can be a stealthy healthy tool for adding lots of flavour and moisture.

There are several ways to make a sauce that is both flavourful and low in calories and fat.

When you cook a chicken breast, steak, pork chop and most other lean proteins in a saute pan, you generally end up with some browned, caramelized bits called fond stuck to the bottom of the pan.

That fond can be turned into a flavourful sauce. Just remove the meat from the pan, return the pan to the heat, add some liquid, then use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom. The resulting sauce can be seasoned, then simmered down until thickened.

This process — called deglazing — can be done with wine, broth or even water.

If you like, before you deglaze you also can brown some aromatics, such as chopped shallots or onions, in the pan to add even more flavour.

Another route to a flavourful, low-fat sauce is to use fresh or dried fruit simmered with broth, vinegar or both.

This fresh cherry sauce is sweet, yet savoury, and can turn simple sauteed turkey cutlets or chicken breasts into an entree worthy of holiday-season company. Fresh sweet cherries from Chile can be found in grocers most of the winter, but frozen cherries work fine, too.

Sauteed Turkey Breast With Fresh Cherry Sauce

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil, divided

75 ml (1/3 cup) chopped shallots

500 g (1 lb) fresh cherries, pitted and halved (about 500 ml/2 cups)

90 ml (6 tbsp) balsamic vinegar

90 ml (6 tbsp) reduced-sodium chicken broth

15 ml (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard

2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt, divided

50 ml (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour

1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground black pepper

500 g (1 lb) turkey cutlets

In a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the oil. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until they are soft and beginning to colour, about 4 minutes.

Add cherries, balsamic vinegar and chicken broth, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that mixture maintains a vigorous simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by about half, about 25 minutes.

Stir in mustard and 1 ml (1/4 tsp) of the salt. Cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a shallow dish, combine flour, remaining 1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt and pepper. Coat both sides of turkey cutlets with flour mixture.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high, heat remaining 15 ml (1 tbsp) oil. Add cutlets and cook until lightly browned on both sides and no longer pink at the centre, about 2 minutes per side. Serve cutlets topped with cherry sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

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