Thanksgiving Recipe Alternative: Turkey-Stuffed Meatballs

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Pair with a Reciprocity from Denver’s Baere Brewing

Recipe by Will Coonradt

Usually the turkey is the one being stuffed, but not this time, pilgrim. The turkey is the stuffing this time around, and I give you: Turkey-Stuffed Meatballs. 

With the herbs, sausage and turkey, the flavors stay within the traditional flavor palate—until the brown butter and pomegranates come to play, adding some unique and non-traditional flavors.

The meatballs can be served as a main course or as an appetizer. If serving as an app, I would make the meatballs closer to the size of a golf ball (unless your family has a whale of an appetite). Feel free to add or tweak the recipe to your fancy, but you won’t be disappointed if you follow this slappin’ good recipe. Who knows, maybe you’ll give Grams a run for her turkey. 

 

Ingredients

  • 3 lb ground pork 

  • 1 1/4 lb turkey loin

  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh-picked thyme 

  • 1 tbsp fresh-picked rosemary leaves 

  • 6 fresh-picked sage leaves, diced

  • 1.5 tbsp cooking oil

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • Salt and pepper to taste 

  • 2 tbsp diced shallots

  • 1.5 cups grated Gruyere (may substitute Swiss)  

  • 4 slices of sourdough, torn into pea-sized pieces 

  • Pomegranate seeds 

  • Butternut squash, peeled and diced

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter

 

Directions

Salt and pepper the turkey and place in a hot (medium-medium-high) oiled pan and cover. Once the turkey browns on one side, flip it and brown the other. Then add the chicken stock, cover again and cook for 7-8 minutes. Reserve a few tablespoons of the stock in a mixing bowl along with the turkey and shred the loins. Mix the shredded turkey, sage, shallots and Gruyere together. Set aside.

Boil water in a large stock pot, add the diced butternut squash and cook for 10 minutes, or until tender. Strain out the water and mix the squash with the brown butter until it is a homogenous paste. Making brown butter is as easy as putting a sauce pot on low and allowing the butter to clarify. Then brown it. “Clarification” of butter is when the milk solids (white particles) separate from milk fats (clear yellow). Be careful not to burn the butter. When the milk solids begin to brown and the butter gives off a nutty aroma, remove from the heat.

To make the meatballs, mix together the sausage, egg, bread and thyme, forming thin discs about the size of your palm. Place about a ping-pong-sized wad of turkey in the middle of the disc, cupping your hand around the turkey to form a round meatball. 

Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the sausage is cooked through. You can check if it’s done two ways: either poke it to see how much give the meat has—it should have little to no give with a light crust around it and pockets of cheese oozing out. Or, just cut into it and make sure the sausage isn’t pink. 

In a sauté pan, fry the rosemary leaves in a splash of hot cooking oil for 30 seconds, carefully remove, and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil. 

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I recommend plating the dish similar to the way I did. With the cranberries and rosemary atop and the butternut mashies below, you are ensuring that the dish will be eaten properly. The pomegranate seeds will cut some of the big fatty flavor from the mashies and continue to complement the turkey stuffing. The seeds are reminiscent of traditional cranberries—but with a twist.

I recommend washing it down with a Baere Brewing Co. Reciprocity, Golden Rye: No Odd Jobs. This Denver-brewed beer is tart on the front of the tongue and transitions into a coriander finish. This flavor profile will complement the dish nicely because it is lighter in body. It also sports a 10.3 percent ABV, which you can’t be mad about. 

Now go eat and be merry, for this is the season for grand company and delectable bites. 

When Will Coonradt isn’t slinging French fare at Bistro Vendome, he can be found skating the streets of Denver, indulging in culinary education, or drinking a Rye Manhattan.