Saturday, January 19, 2008

Swedish Style Turkey Meatballs

When I was a pre-teenager, I went through a phase where I would not eat red meat. I'm not sure exactly how or why this started, though perhaps it was at summer camp. In any case, my mom was pretty supportive of this even though it meant that I often wouldn't eat what was being served for dinner. In many households a non-red meat eater might not be a big deal, but in my household we had beef or pork 5-6 times per week for dinner. You see, my father is allergic to poultry so chicken was a "treat" that we would have only when dad was away on business trips. But I digress. In any case, I went though a non red meat phase which meant that hamburgers became turkey burgers.

I haven't had ground turkey in a long time, but when I was at my new favorite grocery store on Saturday, I bought 2 packages of ground turkey since it was buy one get one free. I thought to myself, "turkey is healthy*" so I should use it instead of beef in meatloaf, chili, etc. Upon arriving home, I checked Epicurious for some ground turkey recipes. The first one I came upon that sounded good was Turkey Swedish Meatballs. Perfect--in fact, D is 1/4 Swedish.

I made the meatballs on Tuesday night. From beginning to end the recipe took about 1.5 hours, but would have been about 15 minutes less if I had put the water on to boil for the noodles earlier. The original recipe is here, but I modified it a little bit because of what I did and did not have on hand.

Swedish Style Turkey Meatballs with Egg Noodles
from Epicurious (originally from Gourmet, April 1998)

For Meatballs:
4 slices firm white sandwich bread (I used leftover Challah)
1 medium onion
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice (in the future I would use a little less)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 pounds lean ground turkey (I used 1 1/4 because that's what I had)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

3/4 pound cholesterol-free egg noodles such as No Yolks

For Sauce:
1 small onion
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups beef broth (24 fluid ounces)
3 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon nonfat sour cream (I used regular Greek yogurt, a big heaping tablespoon)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves (I left this out--I didn't have any on hand)

chopped fresh dill leaves (again, I left this out)

1/2 cup lingonberry preserves or cranberry sauce (I used canned cranberry sauce)

Make meatballs:
Into a blender/food processor tear 2 bread slices and grind into fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a large bowl. Make more bread crumbs in same manner and transfer to bowl. Finely chop enough onion to measure 3/4 cup (I used the food prpocessor to grate onion since I had it out for the bread crumbs) and add to bread crumbs. In a small bowl whisk together egg, nutmeg, allspice, salt, and pepper and add to bread crumb mixture. Add turkey and with your hands mix mixture until just combined (do not overmix).
Form turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls (about 80--mine was about 30) and arrange on a tray. Meatballs may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a 12-inch non-stick skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown meatballs in 2 batches, turning them occasionally, about 4 minutes for each batch. With a slotted spoon transfer meatballs as browned to a shallow baking pan and reserve any drippings in skillet. Bake meatballs, tightly covered with foil, in middle of oven until just cooked through, about 25 minutes. (I lined the bottom part of a broiler with foil and then cooked the meatballs on the top of the broiler pan, covering the meatballs with foil).

While meatballs are baking (better yet, before you put them in the oven), fill a 6-quart saucepan three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for noodles.

Make Sauce:
Finely chop enough onion to measure 1/2 cup. In a small bowl whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup broth (I heated my broth in the micro first). To reserved drippings in skillet add Sherry and onion and simmer mixture, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until most of liquid is evaporated. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture and whisk into broth mixture. Boil mixture, whisking, 1 minute (look at the clock)and remove skillet from heat. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce, sour cream, and dill and keep sauce warm, covered, over low heat (do not let boil). (Add salt to taste in the sauce, mine could have used a little).

When there's about 15 minutes left on the timer for the meatballs, cook noodles in boiling water until al dente. Drain noodles well in a colander and transfer to a large serving dish. Gently toss noodles with sauce and meatballs and garnish with dill. Put 1 tablespoon preserves or cranberry sauce on top of each serving.

I really liked this recipe. It produced a lot of dishes for D to wash, but I think it was worth it. Also, these were lots of leftovers which I froze.

*Incidentally, I checked the nutrition information for ground beef vs. ground turkey.

For 1/4 lb (raw) here's the info for 93% lean ground turkey (from the Jennie-O package):
Calories: 170
Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams
Cholesterol: 80 mg
Sodium: 80 mg
Protein: 23 grams
Iron: 6% daily value

And for 1/4lb ground beef 95% lean (from
Calories: 148
Fat: 6 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.25 grams
Cholesterol: 69 mg
Sodium: 65 mg
Protein: 22.5 grams
Iron: 14% daily value

Typically I buy 93% lean ground beef rather than 95%, but for most things I think I'm going to stick with ground beef instead of ground turkey. The iron is a good thing for me, plus, I like the taste of beef.

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