For the past few years, before he retired, my husband Ted spent several nights each week in Boston, where he had no kitchen save for a tiny fridge and microwave. So, for the past few years, I would cook on the weekends and send him off for the week with bags and containers of frozen food, including tons of turkey meatballs. Ted's favorite way to eat them was in a bowl of crispy salad, which I have to admit tasted pretty good. One week, I hadn't cooked anything, and he'd run out of frozen meatballs, so we headed to the market and found mango-jalapeño chicken meatballs. Oh, so good. After all, they were loaded with sweet mango and brown sugar! I decided to adapt the concept to my basic turkey meatball formula, by adding a bit more heat and reducing the sugar. Ted loved these little sweet-hot meatballs in his salad; I served them as an appetizer, alongside chunks of crunchy jicama. I think they'd make a great starter at a New Year's Eve party. Look for cans of mango nectar in the Latin foods aisle at the grocery store.
Mango-jalapeño turkey meatballs
From the pantry, you'll need: garlic, ground turkey, dry bread crumbs, egg, olive oil, ground cumin, brown sugar, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.
Makes 36-40 small meatballs.
1 small onion, peeled, cut into quarters
1 clove garlic, peeled but left whole
3/4 cup roughly chopped mango
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed
1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1-1/4 lb ground turkey (I use 93% lean)
1 Tbsp mango nectar
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs, or more if needed
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp fresh black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone liner) or parchment paper, and set aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl, cook the onion and garlic on high for 1 minute. (If you don't have a microwave, sauté briefly in a teaspoon of olive oil.) Add the onion and garlic to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, along with the mango, jalapeño peppers, cumin and brown sugar. Pulse until everything is minced, 8-10 pulses.
Transfer the chopped mango and pepper mixture to a large bowl, and add the remaining ingredients. With your very clean hands, mix everything together (do not overmix). If the mixture seems too wet to hold together, add an additional 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs. Be sure to wash your hands again, so you don't accidentally rub your eyes after they've been in the jalapeño mixture.
Heat a small nonstick frying pan with 1/2 teaspoon of oil over low heat. Form 1 tablespoon of the turkey mixture into a small patty, and sauté until cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed with salt and pepper.
When the seasoning is to your liking, place the bowl with the meatball mixture in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. The chilled mixture will be easier to form.
After the mixture has chilled, form the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet. I like to use a disher (an ice cream scoop with a release), to get all of the meatballs the same size.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the meatballs are slightly brown on the outside.
Serve hot, over rice or noodles, or let cool to room temperature and serve as an appetizer. Or, cool completely, and freeze.
More turkey meatballs that would make great appetizers:
Teriyaki turkey meatballs, from The Perfect Pantry
North African harissa turkey meatballs, from The Perfect Pantry
Turkey, cranberry and basil meatballs, from The Perfect Pantry
Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce, from Inspired Taste
Bourbon and cider glazed turkey meatballs, from I Breathe... I'm Hungry...
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