There was one and a half pounds of ground turkey thighs in the fridge that needed to be used. It had been defrosted a couple of days ago and I never got around to using it as I had worked late both days.Time to use the turkey!
Last time I used chicken stock I had frozen the unused portion, so I used that to braise the meatballs, and then make a tasty gravy, with caramelized onions and the last bit of balsamic vinegar.
The whole meal turned out better than I had hoped it would...tender, juicy meatballs and a silky gravy that were both full of flavour. I served them with some leftover mashed potato and steamed asparagus, and was very happy with all the praise I received for the yummy dinner!
To start the meatballs, combine:
1/3 cup minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
A few drops of hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Using your hands, knead in:
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey thighs
Roll the mixture into meatballs. I made 27 that were about 1 1/2" diameter.
Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
To start the gravy, caramelize in a bit of olive oil:
1 medium onion, sliced
When the onion is soft and golden in colour, add a small sprig of fresh rosemary. Turn off the heat and set aside until later.
Heat a deep sided frying pan that is large enough to hold all of your meatballs in one layer. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.
Add the meatballs, and brown them on the first side and then turn them to start browning the second side. Keep the heat at medium high.
Turn the heat down to low, and add enough chicken stock to almost cover the meatballs.
Cover and simmer until the meatballs are completely cooked.
To finish off the gravy, remove the sprig of rosemary. Turn the heat back on to low, and add:
1 tablespoon butter
When the butter has melted, stir in enough flour to coat the onions. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.
When the meatballs are cooked, remove them from the heat.
Carefully pour the braising liquid into the gravy pan, whisking as you do so to avoid lumps.
Add the liquid gradually, until the gravy is smooth and silky. Taste and adjust seasoning.
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar.
Serve the meatballs with the gravy, and pass the remaining gravy at the table.
- If you don't have fresh breadcrumbs on hand, simply crumble a slice or two of bread between your fingers.
- I keep a container in the freezer for stale bread and crusts. When it is full, I defrost the bread and turn it into breadcrumbs by putting the bread into the food processor. I return the breadcrumbs to the freezer; this way no bread gets wasted and I always have breadcrumbs on hand.
- Fresh herbs add a lot of flavour to the meatballs. This is the first time I have used rosemary, and it was a good choice with the turkey. I usually use basil, oregano or parsley.
- Refrigerating the meatballs for a couple of hours allows them to firm up, and also allows the breadcrumbs to absorb any extra moisture. This keeps the meatballs firmer and less likely to break apart during cooking.
- It is important that the meatballs only simmer when the chicken stock has been added. Rapid boiling can cause them to fall apart. The meatballs can also be braised, covered, in the oven if you prefer.
- Water can be used as part of the liquid. Wine can also be used. The chicken stock helps to retain moisture, and the meatballs add flavour to the stock, which in turn adds a lot of flavour to the gravy.
- The meatballs can be made with any ground meat, or combination of ground meats. Chicken or vegetable stock can be used for pork; beef stock is best for beef, lamb or veal.
- When making the gravy, add extra chicken stock or milk if you feel that the gravy is too thick after adding all of the braising liquid.
- I chose not to strain the gravy, as the onions added a lot of sweetness. It can be strained if you prefer a smooth gravy.
- Sliced mushrooms can be cooked along with the onions. Shallots can be used instead of onions.
- The Balsamic vinegar adds depth to the gravy; a hint of acidity as well as sweetness. It can be omitted if you like. Maple syrup can be used instead, to add more sweetness to the gravy. If you have a spicy pepper jelly, add some of that to the gravy.
- The meatballs can be made and frozen; defrost or cook from frozen.
- Leftover meatballs make great sandwhiches; slice them and use for pizza toppings. Make smaller meatballs and serve them as a canape, accompanied by a dipping sauce.