Weekly Winner: A New Take on Spaghetti & Meatballs – Thai-style

thai turkey meatballWho doesn’t love a bowl of noodles and meatballs?  Regardless of the particular ingredients it is approachable, familiar comfort food at its best.  But when you can take an old standard such as spaghetti and meatballs and not only lighten in up, but spice it up and put a Thai-style spin on it, sign me up!

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Broth and Noodles comes from Epicurious and was the perfect dinner on a chilly, rainy spring evening. The original recipe calls for snap peas, but required such a small amount that I did not want to get them just for this recipe so I substituted frozen edamame.

There are a lot of separate steps in this dish, but it’s all easy and comes together quickly.  The only downside is dirtying up a few extra bowls but the coziness factor of this dish definitely makes up for it.

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Broth and Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the meatballs and noodles:

  •  1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  •  6 oz sugar snap peas, strings removed [or frozen edamame]
  •  1 medium red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, sliced into 1/4″ thick strips
  • 4 oz dried rice noodles, such as pad Thai noodles
  • 2 tsp virgin coconut oil [insert my eye roll here] or grape seed oil

For the broth:

  •  1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil [again, insert my eye roll here] or grape seed oil
  •  2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1-1/2 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger
  •  1-1/2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
  •  1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  •  2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  •  1 tsp soy sauce
  •  3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Thai red curry paste [I used about 2/3 this much to control heat]
  •  Lime wedges, chopped peanuts, basil leaves for garnish

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet or 13×9 glass or metal baking dish with parchment.
  2. Beat egg in a large bowl with a fork. Add turkey, panko, scallion, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and 1/2 tsp salt and stir well to combine.  Using your hands, roll mixture into 1″ balls, packing firmly (you should have about 25).  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast meatballs, turning once halfway through, until firm and cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatball registers 165F, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook snap peas (or edamame) and bell pepper in a medium pot of boiling, well-salted water for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a colander with a spider, slotted spoon, or tongs, reserving water in pot.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Return water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain noodles , then transfer to a large bowl and toss with oil.
  5. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add coconut milk, curry paste, broth, lime juice, soy sauce and salt.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  6. Divide noodles among bowls, ladle broth over and top with meatballs and vegetables.

Weekly Winner: Just in time for Chinese New Year – minus the pig :-(

Teriyaki meatballsI’d like to think I had this all planned out.  That I knew that yesterday was the Chinese New Year and that, traditionally, one ate noodles, mushrooms, and greens for luck, health and prosperity.  I mean, in theory I knew all this… I just didn’t realize that yesterday was actually the Chinese New Year AND that it was the year of the pig!  I do love me some pig!  As luck would have it, I had planned this dish for dinner anyway.  Had I really thought it all out, the meatballs would have obviously been made from pork.

This recipe from Cook’s Country for Teriyaki Meatballs caught my eye.  When I realized they were chicken meatballs, I almost didn’t read any further.  To me, chicken meatballs are usually a sad excuse for a ball of meat.  Bland, dry, not worth the effort of rolling out.  But right away they explained that these were different.  They figured out a way to pack flavor, structure and moisture into these little gems.  Yes, they did!  The homemade teriyaki sauce was also a revelation — not gloppy and sickeningly sweet like a lot of bottled versions.  Just thick enough to glaze the tender, tasty meatballs.

I decided to serve them on Udon noodles which I get frozen from my favorite Asian market, but obviously these would be awesome on rice, on other noodles, or simply served with toothpicks as appetizers.

Teriyaki Meatballs

Makes 40 bite-sized meatballs

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

6 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped coarse

1-1/2  cups chopped green cabbage

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Salt & pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

1 pound ground chicken

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

4 scallions, minced

3 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro (I used parsley)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

For the sauce:

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar

1/2 cup mirin

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on the bias

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Procedure:

  1. For the meatballs:  Adjust oven rack to the upper-meddle position and heat oven to 400F.  Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray evenly with vegetable oil spray.  Combine mushrooms and cabbage in food processor and pulse until chopped into 1/4 inch pieces, about 8-10 pulses.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add mushroom mixture and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to large bowl.
  3. For the sauce:  Wipe now-empty skillet clean with paper towels. Whisk cornstarch and vinegar in small bowl until combined; set aside. Bring mirin, water, soy sauce, and sugar to boil over high heat. Whisk in cornstarch slurry, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; transfer 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce to mushroom mixture.  Let mushroom mixture cool completely, about 15 minutes. Cover skillet and set remaining sauce aside.
  4. Add chicken, panko, scallions, cilantro, parsley, egg, sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to cooled mushroom mixture and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.  Divide chicken mixture into 40 portions, about 1 tablespoon each.  Roll between your wet hands to form 1-1/4 inch balls and space evenly on prepared sheet in 8 rows of 5.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  5. Uncover sheet and bake until meatballs are firm and bottoms are lightly browned, 15-20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking.  Rewarm sauce over medium-low heat.  Add meatballs to skillet and toss to coat with sauce. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds and serve.

 

 

 

Weekly Winner: My New Go-To Meatball

ricotta pork meatballsDoes the world really need another meatball?  Heck, yeah!  A more appropriate question might be: “Is there such a thing as too many meatballs?”

These big, beautiful meatballs are incredibly moist and tender and made out of two of my favorite things – pork and cheese! The recipe for Pork and Ricotta Meatballs comes from Cook’s Country magazine and I’m seriously considering making this my “everyday” spaghetti and meatball recipe.  This one takes just about the same amount of total time, but more of it is “hands off” which means I will probably make it more often.  And I should make this often because it is awesome — you should too!  Here’s the deal:

Pork and Ricotta Meatballs

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces

8 oz (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 lbs ground pork

1 oz Parmesan cheese grated (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 large eggs

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp salt

1-1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp grated lemon zest

Sauce:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

10 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 (28-oz) cans crushed tomatoes

salt and pepper

2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Procedure:

  1. For the meatballs: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Set wire rack in aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and spray evenly with vegetable oil spray.  Combine bread and ricotta in large bowl and let sit, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add pork, Parmesan, parsley, eggs, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest to bread mixture and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.  Divide meat mixture into 24 portions (about 1/4 cup each) and place on platter.  Roll portions between your wet hands to form meatballs and evenly space on prepared wire rack.  Roast meatballs until browned, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through roasting.  Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  3. For the sauce: Meanwhile, combine oil and garlic in Dutch oven set over low heat and cook until garlic is soft and golden on all sides, 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in tomatoes and 1 tsp salt.  Cover, with lid slightly ajar, and bring to simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Nestle meatballs into sauce, cover, and transfer pot to oven.  Bake until meatballs are tender and sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Transfer meatballs and sauce to serving platter.  Sprinkle with basil and serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.

 

Weekly Winner: My New Thing to Put in a Pita – Turkish Kofte

This will not win any photographic awards, but dang, these little patties are tasty! I am a fan of meatballs – I don’t care what country they come from or really, what they’re made out of (within reason, of course). If it’s a ball of meat cooked until crispy on the outside and tender and tasty on the inside, I’m there. Give those meatballs some sort of luscious sauce and put it in a sandwich and you’ve got a fan for life here. That’s how I feel about these Turkish Meatballs (Kofte).

The recipe comes from Milk Street Kitchen and without a doubt, they are the moistest, most flavorful meatballs I’ve ever made. That is due, in no small part, to the pita and yogurt that are mixed into the meatballs, and the herbs that are heated in olive oil before being added to the mix. All of this combines to make a quick, fun, exotic dinner.

Turkish Meatballs (Kofte)

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp dried oregano

8-inch pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces) plus extra for serving

1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1/4 cup water

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves (1 oz) finely chopped

1-1/2 lbs 90 percent lean ground beef

1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

Procedure:

  • In a small bowl, stir together 2 Tbsp olive oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the torn pita, yogurt and water, then use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil-shallot mixture, the mint, beef, salt and pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly mix. Divide into 12 portions and roll each into a smooth ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the meatballs and use a metal spatula to press into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Cook over medium, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs register 140F and are well browned on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, cover loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

Lime-Yogurt Sauce

Makes 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

3 Tbsp tahini

3 Tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

  • In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth.

Weekly Winner:  Quite Possibly the Fussiest Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever Made

Well, maybe not ever made, but certainly the fussiest of such dish that I’ve ever made.  I’m usually not a fan of fussiness.  I don’t care if a recipe is overly complex, or complicated.  It can even be downright difficult and take several days to make and I’ll do it if the end justifies the means.  But fussiness for fussiness’ sake? Meh, count me out.

Having said all that, it should be noted that Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Pork Meatballs and Corn Cream was incredibly tasty and very unique.  Nothing in the recipe (which came from Food & Wine Magazine) was difficult.  I’m just not totally convinced it was worth the close to 2 hours it took to prepare it.  The meatballs are amazing.  I mean seriously tasty.  And while there was nothing wrong with the pasta part of the dish, I’m not entirely sure I’ll be making this again.  I’ve frozen the leftovers and will have them again this week and decide then if the recipe is worth keeping.  It certainly was the best thing I made last week, but I’m just not sure it deserves a permanent spot in my recipe book.  Super tasty, interesting, and relatively easy, but just a little too fussy for my temperament.  Make this for yourself and decide – then let me know what you think!

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Pork Meatballs and Corn Cream

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

4-1/2 cups corn kernels

Kosher salt and pepper

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp minced sage

1 tsp minced thyme

1/4 cup whole milk

3 Tbsp plain dry breadcrumbs

12 oz ground pork

1 Tbsp minced parsley

2 tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp ground coriander

Pinch of ground allspice

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish

6 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and cut into large pieces (I had creminis so used them)

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti

Procedure:

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Stir in 2 cups of the corn and season with salt and pepper. Add 2/3 cup of water and bring to a simmer; remove from the heat. Transfer the corn and water to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the corn cream through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pressing on the solids; discard the solids.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of the sage and thyme and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, 30 seconds. Scrape the oil into a bowl and stir in the milk and breadcrumbs. Add the pork, parsley, garlic, coriander, allspice, 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and mix well. Form the mixture into 12 meatballs and transfer to a plate.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and the mushrooms to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, add the mushrooms to the meatballs.

Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of corn kernels to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the shallots and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of sage and thyme, reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook until the broth is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

Add the meatballs and mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Return the pasta and pasta water to the pot. Add the corn mixture, corn cream and the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and 6 tablespoons of cheese and cook, tossing, until the pasta is coated with a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the meatballs, garnish with more cheese and serve at once.

Weekly Winner:  If Swedish Meatballs Traveled to Turkey Wearing a Velvet Blanket

Luscious.  Simply Luscious.  There is no other way to describe this strange little dish.  You have wonderfully soft, spiced meatballs nestled on white rice and then it all is bathed in an amazing yogurt sauce that’s been enriched with egg yolks. Because it’s basically meatballs in a “white” sauce, there is a definite homage to Swedish meatballs.  But this dish is far more complex and interesting than the cocktail party staple.

Spiced Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce comes from Martha Stewart Living.  It takes more time than you’d expect to make this dish and has a few unexpected steps, but nothing is complicated or difficult.  The results are definitely worth it when you sit down to this rich, satisfying dish.

Spiced Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 large cloves garlic, 3 minced, 3 sliced

Coarse salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 large egg, plus 3 large yolks

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, (or parsley in my case) plus more for serving

1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Cooked rice, for serving

Ground sumac and red-pepper flakes, for serving

Procedure:

  1. In a large straight-sided skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add onion, minced garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add cumin and cinnamon and cook, stirring, about 1 minute more. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor; process to a paste.
  2. In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup broth; let stand 5 minutes. Add beef, onion paste, whole egg, and cilantro; mix with your hands to combine. With lightly dampened hands, form mixture into 28 balls, about 2 tablespoons each.
  3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high. Working in batches (do not crowd pan), cook meatballs until browned on all sides, about 7 minutes a batch. Transfer to a plate; pour off fat from skillet. Return meatballs to pan; add 3/4 cup broth and sliced garlic. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer just until meatballs are cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and yogurt. In another bowl, whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup broth; whisk into broth in skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then strain through a sieve into yogurt mixture, stirring to combine. Return to skillet and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until just bubbling and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1 minute; season with salt. Add meatballs to sauce and heat through. Serve over rice, sprinkled with sumac, red-pepper flakes, and parsley.

Weekly Winner:  Great Big Balls of Comfort

Things always seem to get crazy for the first few months of the year.  Always for different reasons, yet always hectic.  I always fall under the false assumption that once the holidays are over things will slow down and my beloved routine will return.  It just never seems to happen.

So when I do have some time to “play” in the kitchen and try new things — I am always looking for comfort.  Something I can curl up on the couch with and escape into.  These Curried Meatballs are just the salve I was looking for.  Meaty, spicy, warm and cozy.

The recipe comes from Bon Appetit and while the list of ingredients may seem a bit long and daunting, at least in my case, I had everything on hand.  Make this dish on the night you seriously need some soul-satisfying, heart-warming fare.  Pajamas optional (but highly recommended). Also you will notice the forbidden cilantro on top.  This was hubby’s dish.  The recipe calls for it but I have omitted it as I always do.  Do what you feel is right.

Curried Meatballs

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Meatballs

Olive oil

6 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 jalapeños, seeds removed if desired

6 garlic cloves

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 pounds ground beef (20% fat)

1 large egg, beaten to blend

3 tablespoons plain yogurt (plus more for serving)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Curry Sauce:
¼ cup olive oil

4 medium onions, chopped

10 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1½-inch piece ginger, peeled, chopped

3 dried chiles de árbol

4 teaspoons curry powder

4 teaspoons ground cumin

4 teaspoons ground turmeric

3 tablespoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Procedure:

Meatballs

Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Purée scallions, jalapeños, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, garam masala, coriander, cumin, and cayenne in a blender until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add beef, egg, yogurt, and salt. Mix with your hands until mixture is homogenous and starts to become very sticky like sausage meat, about 1 minute. Roll beef mixture into golf ball–size portions and place on baking sheet, spacing 1″ apart (you should have about 24). Drizzle meatballs with more oil and bake until browned on top and cooked through, 20–25 minutes.

Curry Sauce

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often,  are translucent and starting to brown, 8–10 minutes. Stir in chiles, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until mixture is very fragrant and spices begin to stick to the pot, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stirring and scraping bottom of pot, and bring to a boil. Add bay leaf, 1 Tbsp. salt, and 2 cups water; return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded, 25–30 minutes.

Let curry sauce cool slightly, then transfer to a blender; blend until very smooth. Wipe out any bits remaining in pot and transfer curry sauce back to pot. Stir in lemon juice and cayenne; taste sauce and season with more salt if needed.

Gently nestle cooked meatballs into sauce, bring to a simmer, and cook until meatballs are heated all the way through, 10–15 minutes. Serve topped with dollop of yogurt.


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