Turkey is a divisive meat – some find it a wonderfully lean alternative to chicken, others think it’s foul. *Pause for applause…3…2…1* In any case it’s getting up to that time of year where turkey may or may not be on the menu, yet even in its absence it looms over us. “Oh, I know it’s traditional but I just find it too dry. I like going for ham instead” some might say. And don’t give me any of your “actually goose is more traditional.” It’s not the 18th century, Marvin.
I sympathise with those who don’t like turkey. It’s a tough bird to cook, and can often end up a bit dry and bland without the proper care. Well, that’s where these meatballs come in. A perfect little starter, they offer bite-size portions of the gobbling poultry to tick that box ready for whatever other beast (or beast alternative) you wish to serve as your main. And with the tart little fruity dip offering they’re bursting with flavour.
- Turkey mince – preferably dark meat, as the ultra lean breast may be too dry.
- Breadcrumbs (the fresher the better) – roughly 1/4 volume of the mince
- Dried sage
For the dip
- Cranberry sauce
- Red wine
- Place your mince in a bowl along with the breadcrumbs and an egg (or two if you’re using more than around 500g meat). Grate in about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg (or preground if you hate yourself) and a handful of dried sage, plus a drop of milk. Ignore your recent manicure and really get in there with your hands, working it together just until it is cohesive. Over working it will result in dry balls and we wouldn’t want that.
- Form into balls about the size of a ping pong ball and get ready to bake. I maintain that the best method for this is using a cupcake tray, as the individual divots offer plenty of contact to encourage browning as well as nicely containing the juices for even distribution. Bake at 200C for 15 minutes or so, until slightly browned. Leave to rest for 5 minutes so they can reabsorb some of the leaked moisture.
- While they rest combine the juice and zest of an orange with a few tablespoons of cranberry sauce, a drop of red wine and a teaspoon or so of honey.
- Poke small cocktail sticks into each meatball and share among your guests.