August 15, 2011

Meatballs: Pork & Turkey edition

I wasn't originally planning to post these, I just wanted some meatballs. However, after they turned out rather well (Palle suggested that they are the best meatballs I've ever made), and since I did kind of scribble down the proportions as I was going along, and since it turns out they are equally delicious cold (hello, bento!), I decided to share them.

I don't make meatballs or meatloaf very often, but I do like them rather a lot, as a main course unto themselves, as part of a pasta dish, as a little protein add-on to a salady sort of meal, or as a sandwich filling. Not to mention the "on a little toothpick" hors d'oeurves application.

The meatball matrix is pretty simple: ground meat(s) of your choice, seasoning, binder, corrector, and featured ingredient (if any). These meatballs are half lean ground pork and half ground turkey breast (hence the pale colour, in case you were wondering), seasoned with salt and pepper, fresh garlic, whole fennel seed, fresh parsley, and ground oregano, bound with egg, corrected with panko, and featuring finely chopped roasted red peppers and green onions.

As with hamburger and meatloaf making, one of the keys to great texture is to avoid over-mixing or over-compressing of the meat, and that means that the best tool for the job is your impeccably clean fingers. Don't be afraid to get right in there - you will have much better distribution of ingredients that way. I am also a fan of putting everything but the meat into a mixing bowl, giving it a bit of a stir with a fork (to break up the egg), and then separating the ground meat into little clumps with my fingers and dropping the bits on top of the rest of the mixture. Once all of the meat is aerated and added to the bowl, I get my fingers in there and toss it like a salad, to avoid the aforementioned over-compression. Once everything is nicely combined, I begin shaping the meatballs. This method works wonderfully for any time you are mixing ground meats.

Pork & Turkey Meatballs
Makes 12 large meatballs

450 grams lean ground turkey
375 grams ground pork
1 large egg
1 whole roasted red pepper (such as Piquillos)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/2 cup panko-style bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all of the ingredients as described in the paragraph above, separating the meat into chunks, and then mixing in the rest of the components. Fry up a tiny nub of meat until cooked through, and taste to see if you need to adjust the ingredients - more salt or fennel seed, for example. Correct the seasoning as needed.

Place, spaced out, in a 9x13" glass baking dish. Sprinkle each ball with a little Worcestershire sauce. Bake at 400 F for 40 minutes - they should be just golden brown. Use a spoon to trim any "spill" of liquid into the pan, as you lift them out, once they are cooked through. If you want a slightly browner meatball, you may wish to brush them with a little soy sauce half way through, but note that this does add a bit of extra saltiness, too. Low sodium soy sauce might be your best choice, there.

You can fry these up on the stovetop, too, of course, although the meat mixture is quite moist, and you are likely to get misshapen meatballs for your extra effort. I highly recommend the baking/roasting method - the balls keep their shape, and you can spend the time that you would have been tending to the meatballs to do something else.

As mentioned above, these are great hot (for example, beside a nice polenta, or a potato-and-vegetable salad, or cold, in your bento (beside...a potato-and-vegetable salad, perhaps...)
If you're planning to make a meatball sandwich, you'll want to have a little sauce, I'm guessing. If you have a stash of leftover sauce in the freezer, this is a great use for it. Otherwise, you can either make a simple sauce from scratch, or purchase one. Warm the sauce together with the meatballs, if you are starting with cold, pre-cooked meatballs. You may want to toast up the bun, too, to add to structural integrity of the sandwich, given how damp even a thick tomato sauce can be. If you want to make your bread garlic bread, I'm certainly all in favour of that. I tend to use Portuguese buns, because I can get good ones in my neighbourhood.
These ones don't really look cooked, but they are - they're from the same batch as the bento shown above.. This is a flaw in the lighting/photography rather than the meatballs themselves, though. Of course, pork and turkey are very light-coloured meats, and I didn't do the extra browning step.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

Cuuute bento! Love it :) The meatballs like so tasty.