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Turkey & Cranberry Meatballs
Thanksgiving – a.k.a, my favorite holiday – is just two weeks away. If you’re anything like me, all of the recipes popping up in my blog feeds, TV talk shows, magazine covers, and commercials have me craving those perfect-for-Fall flavors of earthy sage, tart cranberries, and juicy turkey.
These Turkey & Cranberry Meatballs from my cookbook Well Fed 2 pack all of the yumminess of a Thanksgiving plate into a portable, friendly ball. (BALLS!) It’s like concentrated Thanksgiving power. BLAM! Plus, they can be mixed, chilled, and baked in about an hour. Save the brining and the multi-hour roasting for the last Thursday in November and take a bite of the best of Turkey Day right now!
Turkey & Cranberry Meatballs
Serves 2-4 | Prep 10 minutes | Chill 20 minutes | Bake 20-25 minutes
As you’d expect, these taste taste amazingly good with some kind of sweet potatoes and a pile of greens on the side. Try these little guys with a side of mashed sweet potatoes, a hash made with roasted sweet spuds and scallions, or a pile of Crispy, Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries. For the greens, try simple garlicky greens, Creamy Spice Market Kale from Well Fed, or Crisp, Sweet Collards from Well Fed 2.
2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (unsweetened), coarsely chopped
1/2 tablespoon rubbed sage
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F. Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix baking soda and cream of tartar in water. In a large bowl, mix turkey, orange juice, garlic, cranberries, sage, orange zest, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine, then add the baking soda mixture to the bowl, and mix again. NOTE: For a smoother, more tender texture, use a food processor or a standing mixer – fitted with the paddle attachment – to blend the ingredients. For more a traditional texture, mix the meat by hand. (For details on the science of mixing meatballs, read this.)
Place meat in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes. Roll about 1 tablespoon of meat into a 1-inch ball. I like to use a 1-tablespoon scoop to speed up the process.
Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake meatballs for 20-25 minutes, until browned and sizzling. Serve with your favorite sides — or recreate a Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich by wrapping a meatball in a butter lettuce leaf with homemade mayo, salt, pepper, and a few fresh parsley leaves.
You Know How You Could Do That?
Replace the ground turkey with ground chicken or pork.
Shape the meat into burger patties instead of balls (BALLS!), bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, and then serve on the Sweet Potato Waffles in Well Fed 2.
About the cranberries: If they’re sweetened with apple juice, they’re still Whole30 approved. Any other ingredients makes them quesitonable. If you can’t find unsweetened dried cranberries near you, these unsweetened cranberries from Amazon look like a good option — or you can replace cranberries with dried cherries, other tart dried fruit, or even raisins or dried apples.
Like this recipe? There are 14 more delicious meatball ideas — plus go-alongs and dipping sauces — in Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat.