Discovering Creativity – and a Recipe: CHIPOTLE TURKEY TACOS WITH CHARRED CORN SALSA

People often tell me that I am a creative person.  I can’t disagree with that. I love many things that one would traditionally call creative, music, arts, etc.  But I don’t agree that a person is only considered creative if they participate in these fields.

I mean, if you really like to work on cars and you are really good at it, is that creativy?  What if fixing cars is like an art form for you?  I remember one mechanic that worked on my old Saturn.  I didn’t plan on keeping it much longer as I had it for about 7-8 years, although it did have low mileage.  There was a problem with a fan.  He gave me several options.  We could put in an expensive part.  We could get a used part that may or may not last long.  Or we could put in a light switch that I would have to flip on to turn on the fan.

I think that was kind of creative, don’t you?

Creativity definitely comes from within.  Some folks are just naturals.  But sometimes our circumstances, our surroundings, can cause us to be creative.

Yesterday, I got my creativity on.  Dinner time was approaching.  The hubby and I were both hungry and tired – not wanting to cook.  Having been to the Metro Gross Markt weeks ago, our freezer was full of chicken.  We were tired of that too. Then I remembered the turkey we had bought on that same shopping trip.  I have never cooked turkey parts, just whole.  So I searched the internet for recipes.

I came up with two for turkey breasts that looked great and easy enough.  More importantly, at first glance, I thought I had most of the ingredients to make these recipes work. So which one?  Turkey Breast Medallions with Tomato Jam or Chipotle Turkey Cutlets with Charred Corn Salsa?

We had been to the pazar earlier in the day.  I had a kilo of Kumato tomatoes.  They were delicious and interesting!  (And only cost me 1.50TL to boot!)  I was ready to use them.

Kumatoes available at the Ayranci Pazar for 1.5TL/kg (about 80 cents per pound)

But I had also bought corn on the cob.  Corn on the cob is something I love dearly and NEVER buy in Turkey.  I have tried it several times and finally gave up.  Turks are definitely selling the corn Americans feed to animals.  No matter how milky and sweet they say it is, it is NOT Jersey sweet corn.  Yesterday, I gave in again.  So I figured, it is unlikely that I will buy corn again here.  There will always be tomatoes.  “Let’s go with the Chipotle Turkey.”


Now remember, we were both tired.  I had no interest in cooking at the time.  And there was no way we were going back to the market.  So this recipe needed to work with what was in the house.  In addition, most recipes I come across from the States can not be completed in Turkey without some altering – because many ingredients are just not available here.  This one I could do.  I was pretty sure.

Starting with the side dish, I prepared Spanish Fries, without the peppers and onions.

While those were baking in the oven, I started in on the recipe.  (See below).  Checking the freezer, I had turkey wings, not breasts.  Wings work, but I don’t recommend them.  It is a tedious job to pull the meat from the bones.  Unlike chicken, the skin is harder to pull away and the meat is locked between fat and grizzle.

Turkey is not generally available in Turkey.  [Insert joke here.]  Whole turkeys are available in larger markets at New Year’s.  Turks also cater to Americans and make them available at Thanksgiving.  Turkey parts can be found at Metro.  You may try Real.  Other than that, I’ve never seen them.  You might also try starting a relationship with a local butcher to see if he can order them.

By now you must be asking, “Where the heck did you find the chipotle powder in Ankara?”  I didn’t.  But my friend at Far From the Sticks did.  Actually, it was the fully dried pepper which she gave me as part of a Christmas gift, a basket of ethnic food ingredients.  Thanks Kanka!  Please tell us where you got them!

I had to grind the pepper down with one of these:

Pestel & Mortar – readily available in Turkey

I didn’t have lime wedges.  No biggie.  On my last trip to the States I bought a bottle of lime juice.  Many people have told me that limes are available in Turkey.  I think these people don’t know a lime from a lemon.  I have seen limes once, on vacation in Kaş.  They were expensive and IMPORTED!  If you see them, please let me know the location, time and place.  I want to get there immediately!

I substituted a yellow onion for the red, since that’s what I had in the house.  Red onions can be found in Turkey.  But in the small markets, it’s hit or miss, usually miss.

Corn. I have never liked frozen corn much.  But I’m sure it’s easy to find.  Canned corn is also available.  I had those ears from the pazar, so I shaved one down.  Since they aren’t poached or cooked as frozen and canned likely are, I actually added a little oil to my pan before charring the kernels.

Cilantro.  This is another one that isn’t easily available.  I have seen it at Metro.  It’s possible at Real.  I used fresh parsley.  I also added Dried Cilantro Leaves that I brought from the States.

Photo courtesy of

Finally, I changed the recipe slightly, by slicing the turkey breast before cooking.  This reduces cooking time and allows easy construction of tacos.

That’s my sense of creativity.  Going from “I’m not doing a thing this evening” to “Let’s make a fabulous dinner from what we have in the house.”

Chipotle Turkey with Charred Corn Salsa

Chipotle Turkey tacos with Charred Corn Salsa


1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 1/4 pounds fresh turkey breast fillets, sliced in strips
2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
4 tablespoons corn oil
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Lime wedges
Tortilla Shells


Char corn in heavy medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

Tip:  Prep all of your vegetables first.  Cut them and set aside.  Grate the cheese for your fries if you are serving them.  Slice your turkey last.  This tip keeps your cutting board sanitary while working and less messy.

Sprinkle chile powder in a bowl; toss turkey in bowl and cover with the powder; sprinkle with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté until cooked through, about 1 1/2 -3 minutes.  Transfer to plate. 

Add 2 tablespoons oil to drippings in skillet. Add bell pepper and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Increase heat to high and add charred corn. Sauté until peppers begin to brown, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in cilantro (parsley) and lime juice. Season salsa with salt and pepper; transfer to medium bowl. Return turkey to skillet and reheat, about 1 minute. Spoon salsa over turkey and serve with lime wedges.

Tip: Wrap your tortilla shells in aluminum foil and heat in oven for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Adapted from:


9 thoughts on “Discovering Creativity – and a Recipe: CHIPOTLE TURKEY TACOS WITH CHARRED CORN SALSA

Add yours

  1. Those peppers you liked…I bought them at Hannaford’s in the U.S. and brought them back in my carry-on. Does that make my gift more precious? I also have chipotle pepper flakes if you ever want some. They are pretty spicy so a little goes a long way.

    1. Exactly Caroline! They must be imported! And I was agasp when lemons hit 5TL. Do you mind sharing the name of your tiny little town? If I am passing though, I may have to buy one. Or at least stand there and look at it! 🙂

  2. Chipotle always makes me think of the South Park episode where they get take-out from the restaurant of the same name. Apparently eating it makes you bleed in your underwear, but it’s so delicious it doesn’t matter. 😀

  3. Just checked back 🙂 I live in Guzelcamli, outside Kusadasi. It’s a quiet tourist town that borders Dilek Milli Park and is opposite Samos, Greece. Generally I like it but the smallness gets to me from time to time! BUT we have limes, haha.

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