Thursday, March 12, 2009

Flirting with disaster: Turkey meatballs for the masses!


It's probably become kind of apparent by now that my general approach to cooking is...well...kind of lax. I rarely measure, I just kind of throw stuff in a pan. Sometimes this works, sometimes this comes back to bite me in the ass. And sometimes, both will happen at once, as was the case when I last made meatballs.

My starting point for these meatballs came from a recipe recommended to me by a lovely friend of mine (who also passed along her secret, awesome twist), a true virtuoso in the kitchen. After seeing her breezy, effortless way with these little delights, I was entranced, and immediately came home to try them. They were an unqualified success, and so I, of course, misplaced the recipe before the evening was over. Never to be seen again. Which meant I was, more or less, SOL when Bench requested a repeat a few days ago. Fortunately, these setbacks have never really stopped me; and so I trotted home, ground turkey in hand, to recreate the magic on a wing and a prayer.

ready to bake

Reasons why (in this particular instance) this cavalier attitude presented a slight problem:
  1. I messed up my liquid-to-solid ratio and oversoaked the crackers (standing in for the breadcrumbs--this is the secret, and IT IS AWESOME), resulting in a saltine porridge instead of a moist, crumby cracker dough, which meant I needed to compensate by adding vast quantities of additional crackers to dry out the Meat Dough.
  2. I came home with far more ground turkey than was really necessary. However, in light of problem 1, this turned out to be a blessing.
  3. I could not remember how to actually apply the heat to these things in order to cook them. Bake? Fry? What temperature? What? (In the clinch, I turned, as I so often do, to Mark Bittmann, who showed me the way when it comes to baking meatballs, turkey or otherwise).
  4. I failed to add two very important components: Salt and Pepper. Which I realized after I'd rolled out half the meatballs. Re-rolling raw meat=not particularly enjoyable.
However! By the time I actually got them in the oven, I'd actually gotten the hang of this endeavor, and think I might actually be able to make them from memory from here on out. I served them with a lovely spinach fettucine tossed in ricotta and lemon zest--highly recommended!

Light and lovely turkey meatballs

12 oz ground turkey (or pork; I'll never tell!)
1/4 lb saltine crackers (about one tube if you buy one of the big boxes), crushed
1/2c milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
  1. In a medium-sized skillet, saute the onion in a bit of olive oil until just translucent. Turn off the heat and add the sage; mix thoroughly.
  2. Meanwhile, moisten the crushed crackers in the milk; don't let them get too soggy! Squeeze out the excess moisture.
  3. Add the crackers, egg, onions and sage to the ground meat; mix thoroughly. if the mixture is too wet, crush some dry crackers into the mixture until you reach the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper.
  4. MEANWHILE! Preheat your oven to 350. While it's cranking up, roll the meat dough into balls approximately 1.5" in diameter; place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets. When the oven's ready, bake the meatballs for about ten minutes.


Anonymous said...

What can you say about someone's life when that someone is over the moon because Jennie O ground turkey is $1 per 20-ounce pack? Well, I was that over-the-moon someone yesterday (porterhouse steaks were $3.99 pound, too!). I bought six packs of ground turkey...and guess what I'm making?

bb said...

those look quite delish! Mmmmm, saltine porridge....doesn't that sound appetizing?! I totally get you though when you say sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, as last night I tried to cook a turkey breast I thought was completely thawed out but, um, wasn't. Trying to get it to temp was a disaster. Can you say turkey jerky?

kickpleat said...

meat dough? haha. regardless, they look great!

Talita said...

Looks delicious! I never tried turkey meatballs but I have no doubt that is yummy!

Megan said...

Saltines! Interesting! I usually use a slice of white bread soaked in milk, but maybe saltines would be better (cuz of the salt!). Thanks! I'm gonna have to try!

Unknown said...

sounds good and light! Of course, I might have to make those beautiful lamb shanks first!!