Saturday, February 9, 2013

Recipe: Turkey Meatballs/Meatloaf

As many of you know, I have a 14 month old daughter.  She's a sweet little thing...see???

She started out being a very good eater--would eat pretty much any food we put on a spoon.  Once she started with finger foods and developed a mind of her own, however, she decided she only wanted to eat what she thinks she likes and won't put anything else in her mouth (even if it's something we know she likes).

One of the few go-to protein items that she'll usually eat without complaint is meatballs and meatloaf.  I typically make it from ground turkey because it's relatively inexpensive and the flavor is milder and texture tends to be softer, though she'll eat beef also.  We were sending mini meatballs and slices of meatloaf into daycare with her and the teachers started asking me for the recipe.  Since I typically wing it, I had to actually measure things out and write-down a real recipe.  Here it is to share with all of you as well.

Turkey Meatballs/Meatloaf

Dark meat ground turkey is made from turkey thigh meat.  It tends to have a little more fat content and will result in a moister, meatier meatball.  This recipe makes fairly soft meatballs.

2 pounds Dark Meat Ground Turkey
3 pieces white bread, day-old is okay
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1) Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2) Warm the milk slightly in the microwave.  Tear or crumble the bread into small pieces and soak in the warm milk until soft.  Once soft, break it up further with a fork or a whisk.

3) Add the salt, oregano, garlic, and egg to the bread mixture.  Mix well with a fork or your fingers.

4) Add the meat to the bread mixture.  Using your hands, mix all the ingredients together well without working the meat too much or it will make the meatballs tough.

For Meatballs:

1) This recipe makes very soft meatballs.  If you plan to add your meatballs to an all-day cooked tomato sauce, you may wish to add 1/2 cup or more of plain breadcrumbs to the mixture to firm it up.  Some store-bought breadcrumbs have added salt, so you may wish to omit the salt in the recipe.

2) Form each meatball no more than golf-ball size.  Place meatballs sides-touching in a baking dish.  If the mixture is soft, you won't be able to make perfectly round balls.  This is okay.  Rinse your hands with water if the meat starts to stick.

3) Bake meatballs 15-20 minutes until cooked through and starting to brown on top.  Pour off any excess liquid or grease and allow to cool slightly.  Meatballs may be frozen in a large zip-top.

For Meatloaf:

1) Pack meat gently into the bottom of a standard loaf pan.  Smooth out the top.

2) Invert the loaf pan onto a sheet-pan lined with parchment or aluminum foil.  Tap slightly to dislodge the meat if necessary.  Remove the loaf pan to reveal a perfectly-formed loaf.

3) Place the meatloaf on the sheet pan into the oven and bake until cooked through and browned.  An instant read thermometer should read 160-180 degrees.  If you like, smear the top and sides of the loaf with ketchup or red sauce partway through cooking.  This will give it a sweet crust.

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