THAI-STYLE TURKEY & ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH SPICY GLAZE

We arrive at mid-November and I must tell you that this simple recipe goes into the top 10 of this crazy year. For sure. I used the air-fryer, but it can be made in a regular oven adjusting time and temperature as I mention in the recipe. It was simple to put together, short list of ingredients, great flavor.

THAI-STYLE TURKEY & ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH SPICY GLAZE
(from The Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by several sources)

for the glaze:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
50g granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (optional, but advisable)
1 tbsp sambal oelek
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water

for the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey (dark meat preferred)
1 cup zucchini, grated and squeezed as dry as possible
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten

Make the glaze. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce to a non-stick pan. Heat while stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for about 3 minutes in medium-low heat. Add the sambal oelek, mix stirring gently until the sauce starts to thicken (about 3 minutes).

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, add to the sauce. Simmer, constantly stirring for another couple of minutes. The sauce will thicken quite quickly. Remove from heat, pour into a small bottle or bowl, cool and refrigerate until needed.

Make the meatballs. Combine the zucchini, ginger, cilantro, lime zest, salt, pepper, ground turkey and almond flour and mix them well with your hands. Add the beaten egg and gently finish incorporating it all. Mixture will be a bit loose. Shape as 12 golf-sized balls. Place over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. If they seem too fragile to move around, stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes, it will not affect their roasting, maybe require just a couple of extra minutes.

Heat the air fryer to 390°F, and keep your regular oven at around 300F to keep the meatballs warm as you finish them. If not using an air-fryer, set your oven to 400F to roast the meatballs.

In the air-fryer, they will be ready in about 12 minutes, flip them over mid-way through. In a regular oven they will take 20 to 25 minutes.

As soon as the meatballs are finished cooking, coat them with the spicy glaze. If preparing them in batches, keep the first batch in a 300F oven as you cook the second batch. Serve with your favorite side dish, steamed rice and/or vegetables.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The glaze is the same kind used to dip Spring rolls made with rice paper. You can conceivably buy it ready in the grocery store, but making it from scratch is easy and the pay off is huge. If you like it really hot, add a touch of cayenne. For us, it was the perfect level of heat. Sambal oelek is a wonderful ingredient to keep in the fridge.

As to the zucchini, better avoid using a food processor to shred it. There is something about the size and texture of grating by hand that makes it perfect to combine with the meat. The only variable to keep in mind is the amount of water retained in the zucchini. Squeeze as much as you can, but consider increasing the amount of almond flour to have a consistency that allows you to form the meatballs. Use your intuition.

The meatballs can be formed in small size and served as appetizer with small lettuce leaves to grab them. We enjoyed them as a regular main dish, with white rice and sugar peas made in 5 minutes. Those must go into a future Incredibly Easy post. Stay tuned!

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A MAGICAL MARINADE

Not too long ago I shared with you the youtube channel from Helen Rennie. I landed there through baking, but quickly realized her area of expertise covers pretty much all things cooking. Including sous-vide. The marinade I am blogging about today works wonders to finalize meat prepared by that method, but I also tried it for straight grilling and was equally blown away by how well it performed. It gives the meat a mixture of sweet, salty and umami. I now call it my default marinade for all things protein, and I bet it will do a great job on tofu. That shall be tested in the near future.

MAGICAL MARINADE
ONE RECIPE, THREE USES
(from Helen Rennie’s youtube channel)

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated through a microplane (I omitted)
1 tablespoon za’atar (optional)
1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil

Whisk all ingredients except the oil together in a small bowl until completely emulsified. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly. Your sauce is ready to use.

to print the recipe, click here

PERFECT SOUS-VIDE CHICKEN BREAST
(adapted from Helen Rennie)

Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a bag appropriate for sous-vide cooking. Add 2 teaspoons of the magical marinade and rub it around the meat. Seal the bag and cook for 2 hours at 150F (or your preferred temperature).

Leave the meat to cool in the bag for 10 minutes. Remove from the bag, dry the surface blotting with a paper towel.

Finalize by searing on a hot skillet with a smidgen of olive oil, 30 seconds per side, pressing down with a lid. Marvel at the beautiful color, slice and serve.

Comments: The only drawback of this recipe is that it generates a bit of smoke during the final searing, and our kitchen has such poor ventilation that all fire alarms go crazy. I intend to use the outside grill next time, although it is really hard to beat the gorgeous sear from the skillet. The texture of the meat is perfect, no stringiness, it really elevates sous-vide to a new level.

Another way to use the chicken is to go from the sous-vide step into a stir-fry. I do that often, but with this magical marinade the result is even better. You can sous-vide a couple of days in advance, and just slice the meat and use it in any stir-fry recipe you are fond of.

For that version, I used zucchini, mushrooms and cashews, finishing the stir-fry with a soy-mustard sauce thickened with a touch of cornstarch. The texture of the meat is very similar to that obtained by velveting. Every week I cook some chicken breasts sous-vide and then incorporate in stir-fries. This marinade just makes it perfect.

But what if you don’t own a sous-vide and don’t have any interest in investing in one? Just use the same marinade to grill meats. I share here my recent version with boneless chicken thighs. Place them with enough marinade to coat the surface well, and leave in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight. Then, remove from the bag, dry the surface, season lightly with more salt and slap on the grill…

Isn’t that a thing of beauty? So I hope I convinced you to bring that magical marinade into your life. And a sous-vide would not hurt either (wink, wink).

Helen, thank you for another gem of a recipe!

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CLAY POT SMOKED DUCK WITH POTATOES

This gem of a recipe was made by my beloved husband. I know what you’re thinking: if only all women could be so lucky, right? Since he was in charge of the meal I did not take pictures of the whole process, but it turned out so good, I have to share. Duck is a tricky bird to cook. Legs and breast cook at different rates, so roasting can pose problems. The combination of smoker and clay pot did a magical job, but if you don’t have a smoker, the clay pot alone will work beautifully (check out this post from 10 years ago – !!! – by my friend Celia).

CLAY POT SMOKED DUCK WITH POTATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 whole duck
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
fingerling potatoes
hickory wood pellets (for smoker, optional)

Soak your clay pot in water, reserve.

Season the duck inside and outside with salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence. Place in a smoker at 250F for 30 minutes. This will give it a very light smoky flavor.

Place the duck in the cold clay pot, add the potatoes all around it, season them lightly with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence. No need to add any oil. Close the clay pot and place in a cold oven. Turn it to 425F. Roast for 2 hours. After one hour, open the clay pot and carefully remove some of the accumulated fat with a baster. Close the pot again and continue roasting.

At the end of 2 hours, open the lid and reduce the temperature to 375F. Roast for 30 minutes longer, or until the skin gets as crispy as you like it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one outstanding meal. Phil made a little duck stock with the neck and gizzards of the bird and used that to make a simple gravy, but I tell you, it was excellent straight from the oven, nothing else needed. The potatoes put up a beautiful fight with the duck for the spotlight, because they got infused with duck fat and absolutely perfect. The most amazing thing is that the duck itself did not turn out fatty or overly greasy. As I said, if you don’t have a smoker, just go straight for the clay pot.

In the very near future, I will adapt this method to make a Chinese-style roast duck. I actually tried a very convoluted recipe a couple of months ago and it was an epic disaster. It involved spatchcocking, sous-vide for 20 hours, fridge-drying overnight, roasting, and a side of grievance. It did not bring me joy. But now, enlightened by the man I married, I am ready to re-visit the issue. Stay tuned.

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TURKEY-PUMPKIN ROULADE WITH CIDER SAUCE AND MILLET PILAF

This was one delicious meal, even if I say so myself. I had never cooked turkey breasts, for some reason they’ve always intimidated me. Huge, and with that look of “I am going to be very dry and tough.” But sous-vide has a way to mellow any tough creature into perfection. If you don’t have a sous-vide, you can still make this recipe, just read my comments for changes.

TURKEY-PUMPKIN ROULADE WITH CIDER SAUCE AND CARROT-MILLET PILAF
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 boneless, skinless turkey breasts
Salt Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
2 tablespoons crumbled sage,
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup + 1/2 chicken broth, divided
¼ cup apple cider
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons flour

Heat the water bath to 148F.  Pound both breasts to about ¼ inch thick. Season well with salt and pepper. Make the filling by mixing the pumpkin, pecans, sage and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Spread half the filling on each breast, then roll up each breast jelly-roll style, starting at the narrow end. Keep the roll tight with kitchen’s twine.   Place each breast in a heat-safe bag, and pour 1/4 cup chicken broth + 1/8 cup apple cider in each bag.  Close by water displacement.  Cook in the water bath for 3 hours.

Remove the roulades from the bag, reserving the cooking liquid or one of the bags (discard the liquid from the other bag). Place the roulades on a paper towel–lined plate and pat dry.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a non-stick skillet and brown the roulades quickly on all sides. Cut the kitchen twine and place them on a platter covered with foil as you reduce the sauce.

Add one more tablespoon of flour to the skillet, and cook the flour on it for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock and the reserved cooking liquid from one of the bags. Simmer gently until reduced, about 5 minutes. Season with more salt and a little pepper, cut the turkey in slices and serve with the sauce.

CARROT-MILLET PILAF

1 cup millet, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, dividied
salt and pepper
3 carrots, peeled, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup slivered almonds
smoked paprika to taste

Start by roasting the carrots. Heat oven to 420F. Drizzle the carrots with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Place on a small baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes, then add the almonds and roast for 5 minutes longer, mixing them well with the carrots. Reserve.

Cook the millet. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the millet and cook on high-heat, toasting well, for a couple of minutes. Add 2 cups of water, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until water is absorbed and grains are cooked.  Immediately fluff it with a fork, add the carrots and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipes, click here  

Comments: If you don’t have a sous-vide, the process is pretty much reversed. You start by browning the roulades in olive oil, then add chicken stock and cider to the pan, close it and simmer away until done to your liking. Or use your crockpot, or the pressure cooker, following the timings recommended for this type of preparation.

The millet was also delicious with it, and leftovers re-heated quite well for two more meals. This whole dinner would be perfect for a Thanksgiving for two, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of roasting a whole bird and then facing leftovers until Valentine’s Day say hello…

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TURKEY-SPINACH MEATBALLS WITH CARDAMON TOMATO SAUCE

A considerably lighter version of the traditional Italian meatballs, this one takes ground turkey, almond flour and is baked instead of fried. The addition of dates in the meatballs and Middle Eastern spices in the sauce move it even farther away from Italy, but I promise you, it’s very good. You just need a light hand dealing with them, they are very delicate.

 

TURKEY-SPINACH MEATBALLS WITH CARDAMON TOMATO SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for the meatballs:
2 tbsp olive oil
1  bag (4oz) baby spinach
¼ cup dates, coarsely chopped
1 lb ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
1 egg
1/2 cup almond flour
ground nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste

for the tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
6 cardamom pods
2 dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground coriander (I used whole the first time, but ground works better here)
1 bottle or can of tomato passata  (about 15 ounces)
1 teaspoons ground Kashmiri chiles (or any pepper of your choice)
salt and pepper to taste

Make the meatballs. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large, 12-inch skillet, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the spinach and dates, sprinkle a touch of salt, and cook until the leaves begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to the food processor and run it a few times to chop a little.  Add the ground turkey to the processor, the egg, almond flour and the seasonings. Pulse until everything is starting to get combined, but do not let it turn into a homogeneous paste.

Form the mixture into little balls, keep them reasonably small (about 1.5 in) otherwise they might crumble too much. Place them in the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, turning them over half-way into baking time.

Make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the cardamom pods, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks, and let them get very fragrant, about 1 minute. Carefully pour in the tomato passata. Add the Kashmiri chile, salt, pepper, and stir to blend. Simmer gently on low heat for 20 minutes. Discard the cardamon, bay, and cinnamon sticks.

When the meatballs are ready, place them in the warm sauce and gently simmer everything together for 10 minutes. Keep the heat very low. Serve with your favorite pasta or grain.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Kashmiri chile is a recent passion of mine. It has a special kind of heat that I like quite a bit, and it gives the food a beautiful red color, deeper than you would get from adding cayenne. I’ve been using it quite often and in this Middle Eastern-inspired sauce it does a beautiful job. I made this sauce twice since preparing this recipe, it is great as a milder substitute for the classic shakshuka, and if you add a bit of fresh orange zest right before serving you will be a happy camper. Passata is my favorite starting point, we have a very nice Italian brand available in town, but any type of crushed tomatoes will do. As to the turkey meatballs, feel free to start the recipe by sauteing onions and garlic before adding the spinach to the skillet. We omit those for food sensitivities but your kitchen, your rules!

The meatballs are super tender, moist, and with just a touch of sweetness from the dates.

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