Ground turkey (Recipe: Greektown turkey meatballs)
Adapted in part from the archives, with a new recipe, photos and links.
When I was a child, I thought I was one of a kind -- the kind of person who loves chicken, but doesn't love turkey.My mother indulged my taste in poultry, and instead of insisting I make a meal out of side dishes, for every holiday she'd cook two main courses. Turkey and brisket. Turkey and sweet-and-sour meatballs. Sometimes turkey and spaghetti.
As I've grown older, my tastes have grown up. I still don't love roast turkey, but I love ground turkey, and I always have some in my freezer.
Without the skin, turkey is naturally low in fat, and a good source of folic acid, vitamins B, B1,B6, zinc and potassium. Its neutral flavor accepts all variations of seasoning, from Mexican to Italian to spicy Asian.
I substitute ground turkey in Asian recipes that call for pork -- favorites like ma po tofu and Szechuan green beans -- and I love to try different incarnations of recipes that might also work well with beef, like turkey meatballs, meatloaf and burgers. How about these Asian lettuce cups, or turkey chili, or maple apple breakfast sausage?
In the supermarket, look for ground white meat turkey (extremely lean, sometimes 99 percent fat free, or the 93 percent fat free I prefer) or ground dark meat, which has a bit more fat and flavor. Store ground poultry in the freezer for up to three months.
Of course you can grind your own, if you have a meat grinding attachment for your stand mixer.
I love roast chicken, but not roast turkey -- and ground turkey, but not ground chicken.
How about you? Chicken, turkey, or both?
Greektown turkey meatballs
One of the highlights of my visit to Chicago for the BlogHer conference last summer was a stop at The Spice House with my blogging friend Kalyn. We met owner Patricia Penzey Erd and left the store with many new spices to try. The Spice House sells several spice blends named after Chicago neighborhoods, and their Greektown Billygoat Seasoning -- made with coarse salt, granulated garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, Greek oregano and powdered lemon peel -- is one of my favorites. If you don't have it, substitute Penzeys Greek Seasoning, or dried oregano plus lemon zest, and one clove of garlic smashed to a paste, for the seasoning in this recipe. Makes 36-40 meatballs (or 6 turkey burgers), which turn a Greek salad into a satisfying main course dish.
1-1/4 lb ground turkey (I use 93% fat-free)
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use Fage 0% fat)
1 large egg
1-1/2 Tbsp Greektown Billygoat Seasoning or Penzeys Greek Seasoning (or equivalent mix of dried oregano plus lemon zest, plus one clove of garlic, smashed)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone liner), aluminum foil or parchment paper, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. With your hands, mix until well combined, with the breadcrumbs and yogurt evenly distributed throughout.
Wet your hands with water, and form the turkey mixture into 36-40 meatballs approximately 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Place on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, until just slightly brown. Taste one to be sure they're done; the yogurt will keep the meatballs fairly moist.
You can make these ahead, and freeze them. Serve as an appetizer, or add to a Greek salad.