Cooking Light (April 2013)
It's part budget, part health and part being-tired-of-lunch-options-near-our-offices.
Our regular cast of lunch characters includes various takes on tuna salads, turkey meatloaf, and endless variations of chicken and vegetables. And of course, leftovers. Lots of leftovers.
We chose to make these Barbecue Turkey Meatballs precisely because we thought they would be a perfect addition to our lunch line-up.
So we bought enough of the ingredients to make a triple batch of meatballs and got to work.
Let's call it a lunch audition.
This take on meatballs adds flavor with a vinegary barbecue sauce. It's sharp and smoky. The recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes with mild green chiles in them. In a bit of poor planning (or was it poor reading comprehension?), we forgot to get these at the supermarket. So we subbed in plain diced tomatoes from our pantry. We wish we had had the green chiles, so we could see how they taste with this sauce. It sounds like a great idea to us.
The meatballs themselves are very simple: just turkey, breadcrumbs and chili powder. As an aside, never leave out the breadcrumbs from meatballs like these. We've tried, just to see the difference, and it results in a tough, chewy meatball.
The downside of such a simple prep? The meatballs are woefully underseasoned. The tablespoon of chili powder gets lost. We'd recommend increasing it, maybe even doubling it. Also, there's no salt in this recipe. (We wonder if the canned tomatoes with green peppers might have had salt in them? Since we used our own home-canned tomatoes, which didn't have any salt, we added a hefty toss of salt and pepper into the sauce as it cooked. You'll want to check to see if the tomatoes you add already have salt, and adjust to taste.)
The barbecue sauce itself was flavorful enough, once we added salt and pepper. But the recipe as written creates a sauce that's very thin -- so thin, in fact, that it will not cling to the meatballs. Thankfully, that's easily remedied. At the end of the process, we just removed the meatballs from the skillet and then reduced the sauce down, while stirring, over medium-high heat, which took about 10 or 12 minutes.
So, do these Barbecue Turkey Meatballs make the lunch line-up cut?
This specific version will not. We like these well enough, but we think we can come up with a variation on the dish that we like better.
If we're packing lunch, at least we're going to be picky about what we're packing.
Barbecue Turkey Meatballs
Cooking Light (April 2013); recipe by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
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Nutritional Information available at CookingLight.com
Notes from Zach and Clay of The Bitten Word:
- We used regular canned tomatoes in place of those with mild green chiles, for no other reason than poor planning on our part.
- If at the end of the process the sauce is not as thick as you would prefer, remove the meatballs from the sauce, transferring them to a bowl, and then reduce the sauce over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
- We found the meatballs to be underseasoned, and recommend increasing the amount of chili powder that's added to the turkey.
- Though the recipe does not explicitly state this, you will need to work the meatballs in batches. We did not have a large skillet that would hold all 16 meatballs.
- The recipe doesn't call for salt -- we found that the sauce needed it, so we added it as the sauce reduced.
Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 4 meatballs and 1/3 cup sauce)
Ingredients2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with mild green chiles (such as Del Monte)
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
3 tablespoons Italian-seasoned dried breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1. Place first 6 ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth.
2. Combine turkey, breadcrumbs, and chili powder in a large bowl; using wet hands, shape into 16 meatballs.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs; cook 2 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add tomato mixture to pan; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 6 minutes or until the meatballs are done.