Monday, November 22, 2010

GF Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

This is the second time I’ve tried to make meatballs in the past two weeks. I wouldn’t call the first attempt a complete failure since it was perfectly edible, but I’d put it more in the category of a learning experience.

I’d never really made meatballs before. My main experiences with meatballs come from Chef Boyardee, slathered with the kind of tomato sauce you can only get in a can with balls of meat. I thought you could just roll all the ingredients into a ball, throw some sauce over it, and presto! –meatballs.

Maybe this happens when you’re using all the correct ingredients, but when you replace beef with turkey, regular bread with GF bread, and then add zucchini, it isn’t quite that easy. A ball of ground beef holds its shape, rolls around nicely on the flour and allows itself to be sautéed in butter. Ground turkey doesn’t like to be mixed. It doesn’t like to roll or keep its shape or be sautéed. It can be rolled into a ball with the proper amount of persuasion and wet fingers, but as soon as it sits in the pan it flops out just a little, as if it were holding in its stomach and then just let it all go. The balls become mounds with flat bottoms. A little experimentation led me to add more breadcrumbs (don’t tell carb-hating Eric), which made it a little easier to shape.

I think this last try is the last one for a while. After making meatballs then matzo balls then more meatballs, I’m a little burnt out on molding food into balls. I could go for some food that has a slightly less spherical shape to it.

Since I had a huge amount of turkey to work with, I decided to experiment. Half was fried, the other half baked. I liked both, but the fried ones were a little too heavy for me after the first two bites. The baked ones seemed better all around, and tasted good dipped in hummus. I poured the sauce over some noodles and added the meatballs. Eric, of course, just had the meatballs with the sauce on the side.

Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
2.5 lbs. ground turkey
2 small fresh sage leaves
2 medium zucchinis
1 large onion
2 slices GF bread
¼ cup breadcrumbs
¼ tsp pepper
1 egg
2 garlic cloves

¼-1/2 cup oat flour,
¼-1/2 cup beef broth
¼ cup buttery spread

Soak bread slices in soymilk for 1-2 hours. Grate zucchini and onion or use a food processor. Cut garlic into small pieces. Put the grated zucchini and onion in a colander and squeeze out the excess juices.

Beat the egg. Add the soaked slices of GF bread. It will be mushy, so you can just mash it with your hands as you add it. Add the vegetables and turkey. Mix with your hands. Form small balls about an inch or less in diameter with your hands.

To fry:
Add a thin layer of oil (I used grapeseed) to a large frying pan. Put the meatballs in carefully, making sure that they don’t touch each other (they stick together if crowded). Wait for the bottom to brown (you can see it on the bottom edge) and then turn it. When the other side browns, the meatballs are cooked enough to move them around the pan. Be careful; they still have a tendency to fall apart. Cook over medium-low heat, moving them around with a spatula so that they all have a chance to brown a little. To make sure they’re done, open one up and have your husband eat it. If he gets salmonella, it’s not done. If he lives, the meatballs are ready. Alternately, just open one up and look at it.

To bake:
Add a thin layer of oil to an 11x13 baking dish. Put as many meatballs in as you can, being careful not to crowd them. Bake for 30 minutes, then add about a ½ cup of beef broth to the bottom of the pan. Continue baking for another 30 minutes.

Sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk half of the flour into the melted butter and cook, whisking constantly. Add beef broth and whisk. Keep adding broth and flour alternately and whisking. Lower the heat and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Warning: sauce has a tendency to thicken. Before serving, whisk in a little more broth.

Hilarie's Swedish Meatballs
(Clara Hersh and Hilarie Wasserman)

1 pound of hamburger
1 package of Lipton dry Onion Soup Mix)
2 slices of white bread (stale is best)
1 egg
1 can evaporated milk (use about half the can or more)
2 cans of beef broth or bouillon
3 Tablespoons of butter or margarine-more if needed
4 or 5 fresh tomatoes or a #2 can of chopped tomatoes
2 medium size onions, in small size slices
2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper

1.  Soak the bread in the milk for around 2 hours or until the bread has absorbed the milk.  It will make a soft, wet type dough.
2.  Beat the egg.  Add the meat, soaked bread, salt and pepper to taste.  I also add around 1/2 of the dry Lipton Onion Soup to this mix.
3.  Sauté the onion slices and chopped garlic cloves in butter in a frypan.  Set aside.
4.  Form the meat mixture into small balls.  Roll each ball in flour.
5.  Sauté the floured meatballs in the margarine (in the same pan as you did the onion slices and garlic) until browned and the meatball holds together.
6. Remove the meatballs to a 9 by 13 casserole dish that has been greased with margarine.
7.  Put the canned beef broth in the pan where you cooked the meatballs.  Scrape the juices from the bottom of the pan. If you would like the juice to be thicker, like gravy, remove around 1/4 cup of the hot liquid to a glass.  Use a small whisk and dissolve 1 to 2 T. of flour (wondra flour works well. It comes in a can).  When the flour is dissolved, pour it back into the pan with the other juices and whisk it all together.
8.  Pour the hot juices over the meatballs.  Top with the sautéed onions and garlic, and the canned or fresh chopped tomatoes.
9.  Make sure the liquid comes to the top of the meatballs.  If not, add a bit more water.
10. Cover the dish with foil.  Bake for 2 hours around 300˚


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