Sunday, May 22, 2011

Twice Tested Time-Crunch Turkey Meatballs

Can Do Cooking:  Turkey Meatballs - Made with Ground Turkey Breast.  Yes you can make this taste good!

Will it stop raining already?  I thought it was supposed to be April Showers = May Flowers.  Anyway, I have a love hate relationship with this time of year.  While hooray the weather is warmer, and everything is blooming, this means a fresh new crop of chores (pun intended).  
The part of spring I love

Beautiful Lilac has such a short window for beauty
Winter means only inside responsibilities, except for snow removal.  The warmer months mean planting, weeding, feeding,  mowing lawns, fending off insects and a bevy of other things besides indoor maintenance.  It's when construction starts, perhaps painting and spring cleaning.

With twice the work, you need to be as efficient as possible with your time. Quick prep meals are key.

One Sunday my husband brought home ground turkey breast. I've cooked in the past with Ground Turkey with some success.  But  ground turkey breast?  Low fat, and similar looking to ground chicken, it didn't really hold high hopes for something YUMMY.  My husband is not even a fan of ground turkey. He actually bought it on my behalf as he thought I would enjoy something bland and chewy. 

It had been a busy day, and I wasn't in the mood for "catering service."   In my house that means multiple meals to make everyone happy. Maybe I could turn it into make-shift spaghetti and meatballs and sell it my husband as well as my kids.  My youngest is very aware when I substitute a different type of meat, so it wouldn't be easy.

The Plan:

My inspiration was a recipe I had seen once for Seitan. If you have ever made or had Seitan, you know it's created by mixing water and vital gluten flour and is a vegetarian's meat.  As you can imagine the end result tastes like nothing. That said, it will take on any flavor you put into it.  Since beef is traditional in spaghetti and meatballs, my goal was to assimilate beef like characteristics into the turkey, which also has little flavor.  I had seen a recipe for "beef flavored" seitan.  The key ingredients were tamari and worcestershire sauce.... I thought, if I add this to turkey mixture maybe I can boost the flavor and make it less turkey-like. Indeed it was recipe for success.

Turkey Meatballs

Extra Virgin Olive Oil as needed
3 cloves garlic mashed into a paste or minced
1 lb. ground turkey breast

3 slices soft italian loaf bread
1/4 cup milk to moisten
1 egg beaten
1/4 small onion chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (the finely grated kind)
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp salt
5 to 7 dashes tamari
6 to 8 dashes worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp allspice
Handful of italian parsley chopped
24 oz.  prepared jarred sauce.  Plus part of another jar for saucing your pasta.  I had best results with Prego Tomato Basil Garlic.

Chop garlic. Add a little salt and a little olive oil to your board and continue mincing. The oil and salt helps the garlic stay in one place. Scrape garlic with the back of a chef's knife to make something close to a paste.  (If you have a garlic mincer save yourself the trouble and run the garlic through there).

Combine the garlic and the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. 

Run your hands under a slow stream of water to moisten them.  Shape meatballs into about 1  to 1 1/2 inch balls.   You may need to wet your hands from time to time.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy skillet over medium low heat.  Carefully drop meatballs into skillet in a clockwise direction.  (They are too fragile to drop in all at once, and this way you can keep track of which one has been in the longest and so on).  Cook meatballs on one side until a light crust forms and the meatballs don't stick as easily to the bottom of the skillet.  Turn them over with a fish spatula or delicate tool.

Pour a 24 oz. jar of desired jarred pasta sauce. NOTE: that is enough sauce to cook the meatballs but not enough for your pasta.  Heat up some more sauce for your pasta.

Turn up heat to a boil and watch just until pasta sauce starts to just bubble then turn down to simmer.  Make sure to cover quickly or you will have a big mess.

Simmer until meatballs are cooked through to 170F.  Cooking times will vary depending on how long you cooked them prior to adding sauce and what size they are.  Check after 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.    
These are also great in a meatball sub with melted mozzarella cheese.

Twice Tested Turkey Meatballs

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