Have you ever struggled with meatballs? They seem like they should be so simple, yet too often they turn out gummy or crumbly. I discovered this recipe that calls for cooking the meatballs on an electric griddle before adding them to any sauce. I was skeptical but tried it anyway. Now, I never make meatballs on anything except my handy griddle.
Meatballs are not just round pieces of meatloaf. A good meatball should have a bit of a crust, it should be moist and the flavors should compliment the meat. You can use turkey, beef, pork or veal but you should never have ingredients that overwhelm the taste of your meat.
Usually meatballs are served with a sauce, either for dipping or else drizzled over them. Sometimes you will find them buried in a bowl of BBQ sauce but that is just messy. This recipe has a wonderful ginger soy sauce that can be drizzled on top just before serving.
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup soy sauce, preferably Japanese or reduced sodium
- ½ cup mirin, a sweet rice wine, or ½ cup sake with ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup peeled, chopped ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 4 whole black peppercorns
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped
- Half bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil, preferably toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil
Make the sauce first so that it is ready when the meatballs are done. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves completely. Reduce heat to a medium-low and add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander and peppercorns. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes, though it may take you longer to really get a glaze that will stick to the meatballs. Once it has reduced, strain through a sieve.
Making The Meatballs
Mix the turkey, scallions, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, and several grindings of black pepper in a bowl. Roll tablespoon-size knobs of the mixture into balls. To help keep the meat from sticking to your hands and deforming the balls, wet your hands first. You can also grease them lightly with oil or butter.
Heat your griddle to medium-high heat and brush with vegetable oil. Place meatballs on the griddle and cook, turning, until browned all over and cooked inside, about 8 minutes. Arrange on a platter, spoon a little sauce over each meatball, and serve with toothpicks.
While this recipe calls for ground turkey there is no reason that you can’t use other meats. Ground beef, pork, veal and chicken work just as well. With beef and pork you will want to be aware of the fat content. Meatless substitutes can work as well. The bean based protein that is available performs well, holds its shape and tastes good.