Thursday, January 21, 2016

Second Time's The Charm

Turkey Meatballs

I had this ready to post earlier in the month just after the family when home after the holidays, but other things kept jumping in front of this recipe. But today, while we wait to see if we have frozen weather this weekend, I'll share it. Thankfully, there are still some meatballs in the freezer. Might be perfect for an easy supper if we are here snowed in for a couple of days.

I know I posted this recipe only a few weeks ago, and this is quick to post again, but I changed the cooking method this time and it made all the difference. A lot of difference. We liked them okay the first time. This time everyone loved them! Little ones. Son-in-law. Everyone. The first time I cooked some of these, I did it all in the skillet—browned the meatballs, poured sauce over and cooked them until done. (The original recipe didn't give a cooking method, just the mixing and freezing directions.) When I cooked them on the stovetop, the meatballs kind of fell apart and the texture was softer than I liked. Cooking them in the oven gave a better texture to the meatballs. I won't try another way after this success.

I had a double batch of these in the freezer to help feed the family while they were here for the holiday. This was a favorite dinner of their two week stay. I am always looking for ways to make supper easy when the little girls are here. Pulling things from the freezer really helps.

 This is a double batch, ready for the freezer.

    adapted from Martha Stewart

3 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread
1/4 cup whole milk
1-1/2 lbs. ground turkey (lean, dark meat)
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 tsp. from a jar)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 large egg
coarse salt and pepper to taste

Place bread in food processor; pulse until fine crumbs form. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with milk; set aside at least 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, green onions, garlic, parsley, egg, salt (1-1/2 tsp) and pepper (1/4 tsp) and breadcrumb mixture. Mix gently with a fork.

With your hands, form into meatballs (1 meatball = 2 level tablespoons). Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

To freeze: place meatballs on baking sheet in freezer for 1 hour. Move meatballs to a ziplock freezer bag. Label and date. Store frozen up to 3 months.

Makes about 30 meatballs. (I got 28)

To cook frozen meatballs:
This time I heated a large non-stick skillet with olive oil to medium hot. Then I browned the frozen meatballs. Just used my tongs to turn them a couple of times and get a good brown on two or three sides. I don't think any of them were browned all over. I turned them as best I could, but didn't try for complete browning. I didn't want them to break apart.

I moved the browned meatballs into a 8x11-inch baking dish (that's a 2-qt dish) that I had sprayed lightly with PAM. I poured a jar of spaghetti sauce into the warm skillet, then added a can of diced tomatoes and a couple of good shakes of Italian seasoning. Stir that all up and let it simmer a few minutes.

Pour sauce over the meatballs and cover dish with foil. Bake at 350 degrees (preheated) for 1 hour.

This time I served the meatballs with cheese tortellini.  This was a nice change from spaghetti. As we kept talking about how good these are, we said they could also be good for making meatball subs, or meatball sliders. I have enough left in the freezer to cook again. Next time I might pour barbecue sauce over the browned meatballs before baking, then serve them with mashed potatoes.

I also had whole wheat sourdough bread in the freezer. And I just open a can of green beans because I was really looking for easy—and Baby Girl likes green beans. That's as good a reason as any to cook them.

This recipe is now definitely a "keeper."

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