Thanksgiving Turkey Balls

Your Guests Will Gobble Up These Turkey Balls At Your Next Holiday Party

“It’s like Thanksgiving in my mouth!”  This was my husband’s reaction when I experimented with creating a turkey meatball recipe for the first time.  The flavors of turkey, caramelized onion, cooked celery, and herbs really make this recipe a hit in my house every time I make it.  The house smells awesome too as these little guys fry on the stove.

Start by coating the bottom of your favorite frying pan with some olive oil.  Dice up a large onion (I prefer a sweet onion like Vidalia) and dice up a few stalks of celery.  Toss the diced onions and celery into the pan and cook over medium heat until the onion and celery begins to caramelize as some of the moisture evaporates.  Add 1-2 cloves of finely chopped or pressed garlic toward the end, and cook down for a few minutes.

Turn down the heat to medium/low and add 1 teaspoon of your favorite blend of dry Italian herbs, (remember to rub them in your hand to release their aroma and flavor just before tossing them in the pan.)  Add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  The onions and celery should start to look translucent and begin to show signs of browning/caramelizing.  Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside for later.

Next, in a large mixing bowl combine 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of ground turkey meat, 1 cup of your favorite Italian breadcrumbs, and 1/4 cup of your favorite grated cheese (I love Romano.)  Beat 2 large eggs in a smaller bowl and add to the meat mixture.  Add the cooked vegetables to mixture.  Gently work in all of the ingredients, but don’t go crazy because you don’t want to make tough meatballs.  The less you handle the mixture, the better.  It will look very moist when everything is incorporated.

If you have the time, you can even form the mixture into balls a day in advance, or earlier in the day, if preparing them for dinner.  Through experience, I’ve learned the meatballs maintain their shape really well while cooking if formed and stored in the fridge ahead of time, even just a few hours.  Otherwise, no biggie, just form the meatballs, trying to maintain a similar size to ensure even-cooking.  They should be roughly 1 tablespoon in size.

When you’re reading to fry, just use the same pan you started with.  Add more oil to coat the bottom of the pan, but this time use a cooking oil that can tolerate higher temperature.  (I usually use Canola.)  Don’t overcrowd.  If your meatballs look like a mosh pit, you will struggle to flip them.  Trust me, I’ve been there.  So either be ready to make two batches, or have a second pan hot and ready at the same time.

These meatballs develop a nice brown crust on the outside as you move them around the pan.  You will probably have to add more oil at some point to prevent the meatballs from browning too dark.  This is normal.  Also, some of the onions will probably escape from your meatballs and crisp up.  This actually adds a nice texture when you plate your meatballs so don’t worry about this!

When you’re ready to plate and serve them, sprinkle with a bit more grated cheese and fresh parsley.  

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