16 November 2011

The world begins at a kitchen table

There are some people in the vicinity of Belfry HQ who like traditional turkey dinners.

One might, if one were inclined to overthink, conclude that what these people really like are the associations that come with turkey dinners -- holidays, family, falling asleep in front of football games, and that kind of thing.

That would be overthinking it. Some of these people really love turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce, family and football optional.

This presents a conundrum for your humble cook. There is something tremendously satisfying about feeding people food they enjoy. Food is love, et cetera, et cetera. You know the trope.

But cooking a turkey dinner with the necessary trimmings is a large -- and expensive -- enterprise, and one that necessarily results in a lot of food. More food than two people can reasonably expect to eat in a week, even if one of them loves turkey dinners.

What follows is an attempt to pack the goodness of the turkey dinner into a more manageable package, for the delight of the person who likes turkey dinners, and with a nod to the plates of k├Âttbullar with lingonberries that the other person loves.

Turkey dinner

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
1 egg
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tbs (more or less) milk or broth
1 small onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tbs dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

The breadcrumbs should come from a crusty loaf or rolls. Ordinary sandwich bread becomes slimy when wet and is thoroughly nasty when incorporated into meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Add just enough milk or broth to moisten them and toss lightly with a fork.

Chop the onion, celery, and carrot fine, or pulse a few times in the food processor. Add the vegetables and herbs to the breadcrumb mixture.

Beat the egg lightly and add to the bowl, along with the turkey. With your fingers, mix all ingredients gently until thoroughly combined.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out the meatball mixture, shape it into balls, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 30-40 minutes, turning the meatballs once or twice. Be careful not to overbake.

Serve hot with mashed sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, or whichever side dishes are best loved by your people. Makes about 18 meatballs.

In retrospect, two things occur to me. The first is that cornbread crumbs would be a logical thing to use instead of regular bread crumbs. If I have cornbread crumbs available the next time I decide to do this, I might try that.

The second is that one could use the bread and vegetables to make the stuffing separately, and then make stuffed meatballs. That would be a bit more work, but it might be fun to bite through the meatball into a little pocket of stuffing.

Joy Harjo

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  1. This looks incredible--look a good and worthier version of a croquette.

  2. Yeah, they came out really really well. The whole thing hinges on using decent breadcrumbs so they soak up the milk and everything stays moist.


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