Friday, August 24, 2012

The Meatball Shop's Gobble Gobble Balls

My love and obsession over The Meatball Shop in New York City (currently three different locations) has been well advertised on Mission: Food. I have swooned over selections I've tried at the restaurant as well as swooning over recipes in their cookbook. It's a pretty solid choice for good food at a really good price if you hit up one of the restaurants as well as a great option for a weeknight meal, or even for entertaining guests, if you score a copy of the cookbook. I recommend doing both if you can :)

I don't generally let the seasons dictate what I eat. I will definitely focus my diet on what is in season at a particular time, but if it's August and I'm craving Thanksgiving dinner, I will find a way to make it happen. That's where these meatballs come into play. I had eyed them heavily when I first got the cookbook, but come August I simply couldn't wait any longer until an "acceptable time of year" for Thanksgiving. I'm thankful all the time, and so I'd like my turkey now, please.

I actually used some of my delicious homemade thyme bread with olive oil to make the garlic croutons for these balls. Yet another example of the versatility of this yummy bread :) Just like all the other recipes I've tried from the book (this is the 4th meatball recipe I've tried in addition to several sauces and sides), it was very easy to make (fool proof, in fact), and yielded awesome results!

It really and truly tasted like Thanksgiving. From the actual turkey to the sweet and tart dried cranberries, the hint of cinnamon, and the chewy garlicky bites of the croutons that were very reminiscent of stuffing, these were the perfect way to get over the hump until Thanksgiving actually rolls around. Along with some creamy mashed potatoes and garlicky sauteed haricots verts, it was a full meal that satisfied all of us. And it took far less time than making an actual turkey! Gobble gobble!

Gobble Gobble Balls
Makes 2 dozen
(Adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook)

Garlic Croutons:
2 cups bite-sized pieces of stale country bread (I used homemade thyme bread with olive oil)
1 garlic clove, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey
2 cups garlic croutons or stuffing cubes
1 cup dried cranberries
2 large eggs
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (I used fresh thyme instead)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon

For the garlic croutons: Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, add the bread pieces and garlic and drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat the bread (about a couple tablespoons or so). Toss gently to combine and season with salt.

Place the croutons on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Stir and continue to bake until the croutons are golden brown and crunchy, checking and stirring every 5 minutes.

For the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Drizzle the olive oil into an aluminum foil-lined 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

Combine the ground turkey, croutons, cranberries, eggs, bread crumbs, sage, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.

Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F.

Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.


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