Deviled Smoked Turkey Appetizer


Deviled Smoked Turkey Appetizer


As holidays approach, I find myself making more appetizers for gatherings and receptions. “Deviled” treats, such as eggs or ham, lend a humorously evil touch as a party appetizer around a religious holiday, a church supper, a wedding, or to kick the New Year off to a good start. But let’s risk it!


That delightfully wicked association of the Devil with food typically means spicy, especially with sulfur-containing seasonings like mustard, black pepper and chilies. The concept of the Devil and Hell being connected with burning heat and sulfurous fumes (brimstone is an old name for sulfur) almost certainly comes from early people’s experience around volcanos and all that fire and bubbling and chaos and smell “down there” in the pit.


In my childhood a favorite sandwich spread and appetizer was “Deviled Ham,” which came in iconic small cans with a dancing, merry red devil on the label. That canned treat, however, goes back well before my childhood. It was created just after the Civil War by the Underwood Company, a canning business founded in Boston in the 1820s. Underwood had already become prominent producing canned foods that fed Union soldiers in the Civil War, and went on to can foods that pioneers took with them as they moved West. Of course, I didn’t know all that when I was a kid, only that Underwood Deviled Ham was luscious.


Although I enjoy pork, as should be apparent from numerous recipes in this blog, many people do not eat it. So rather than Deviled Ham, here is a fairly easy appetizer based on smoked turkey, which will appeal to a wider number of nibblers at the appetizer table. It hit me to use smoked turkey recently after I had a few slices as a snack from the deli counter. And smoked turkey that is sold sliced is easy to cut finely to make the appetizer. In addition to the obligate mustard, black pepper and chili, I’ve added diced canned pimiento and chopped pickle to give some color highlights.


The recipe makes a half pound, which with crackers will provide appetizers for ten or more people. The mixture should be made in advance, then stored refrigerated for at least a few hours or up to a day or two before serving, convenient for entertaining or taking to a pot luck.


While the point of the recipe is to make an appetizer with smoked turkey, using smoked ham instead of turkey makes a good dish also.


1/2 pound deli smoked turkey breast, sliced thinly (or smoked ham, see above)

Bread-and-butter or dill pickles sufficient to make 2 tablespoons after dicing

2 tablespoons canned diced pimiento, drained

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salt if needed

Paprika for garnish


On a cutting board, using a chef’s knife, finely dice the turkey by stacking the slices then cutting them across into 1/8-inch slices, then turning them and cutting into 1/8-inch bits. Place in a mixing bowl. Place several slices of pickle on cutting board and dice them up with the chef’s knife. Measure 2 tablespoons, and add them to the bowl. Drain liquid off the measured diced pimiento and add pimiento to the bowl.


Add mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, cayenne and black pepper. Mix well. Taste, and add a little salt if needed (smoked turkey varies in saltiness). Cover bowl and refrigerate at least several hours, or up to several days before serving. Stir the mixture well and taste. Add a little salt, but only if needed.


To serve, heap the mixture up on an attractive small platter or shallow bowl. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Accompany with small crackers to spoon the mixture onto.


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