Turkey Meatballs Recipe: The Secret to Making Them Succulent


RUN WITH IT Grated zucchini makes these turkey meatballs remarkably succulent. Basil, scallions and cayenne give them punch.



Photo:

JENNY HUANG FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, FOOD STYLING BY PEARL JONES, PROP STYLING BY BETH PAKRADOONI

The Chef: Mona Talbott



Illustration:

Michael Hoeweler

Her Business: Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions, Hudson, N.Y.

What She’s Known For: Scrupulous sourcing. Applying technique acquired in Italy, France and California to Hudson Valley produce.

THROUGHOUT THE Hudson Valley of New York state, people rely on Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions to fuel weekend adventures and impromptu gatherings. Chef Mona Talbott applies her classical training to a range of deceptively simple prepared dishes that travel well. “It’s clean food,” she said. “And the beauty lies in the details.”

In Ms. Talbott’s second Slow Food Fast recipe, she makes turkey meatballs fresh and tempting with the addition of grated zucchini, basil, scallions and cayenne. “Turkey can be a bit dry, but the zucchini brings moisture,” she said. Ms. Talbott serves the meatballs on a mound of saffron rice with an herby, jalapeño-spiked yogurt sauce. Everything comes together quickly and can be prepared in advance, making this elegant dish easy to tote along to a picnic or potluck. At home, it’s a wholesome, satisfying meal worth bringing into the regular rotation.

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Chef Mona Talbott serves the meatballs on a mound of saffron rice with an herby, jalapeño-spiked yogurt sauce. Everything comes together quickly and can be prepared in advance, making this elegant dish easy to tote along to a picnic or potluck. At home, it’s a wholesome, satisfying meal worth bringing into the regular rotation.

JENNY HUANG FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, FOOD STYLING BY PEARL JONES, PROP STYLING BY BETH PAKRADOONI

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups cooked basmati rice
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1 packed cup coarsely shredded zucchini
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Ground cayenne
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced scallions
  • ⅓ cup minced parsley
  • ¼ cup minced basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, plus more to garnish
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pinch saffron threads

Directions

  1. Make the meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse ½ cup cooked rice until grains are finely crumbled. In a medium mixing bowl, combine crumbled rice with ground turkey, shredded zucchini, 2 cloves minced garlic, and a good pinch each of cayenne, salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Work in scallions, chopped parsley and basil until evenly distributed.
  2. With wet hands, form meatballs about the size of golf balls and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush meatballs with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until just cooked through, 10-12 minutes.
  3. Make the green yogurt: In food processor, pulse together remaining garlic, jalapeño, ½ cup cilantro leaves, yogurt, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Once well combined, taste and season as needed.
  4. Make the saffron rice: Set a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. Add butter and crumble in saffron threads. Once butter starts to sizzle and saffron scent blooms, after about 1 minute, stir in remaining cooked rice. Once grains are evenly coated in butter, cover pan and gently warm rice through, about 1 minute. Season with salt.
  5. To serve, spoon saffron rice onto plates and top with turkey meatballs. Spoon green yogurt over top and garnish with cilantro.

—Kitty Greenwald is a chef, food writer and the co-author of ‘Slow Fires’ (Clarkson Potter)

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