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From Ottolenghi’s turkey and zucchini meatballs to Chinese lion’s head pork versions, the meatball recipes we keep returning to

The meatball is a vehicle for easy comfort. It’s a truly simple weeknight dinner staple, where with the right recipe, that perfect meatball juiciness is an easily achieved part of the early equation and not something that needs to be belabored, whether or not your meatball is slathered or simmering in a sauce. Here now, Eater editors’ go-to recipes for turkey meatballs, Asian-style meatballs, and everything in between.


Turkey Ricotta Meatballs

Julia Turshen, The Kitchn

In my world, ground turkey has exactly one purpose, and that is for making Julia Turshen’s turkey ricotta meatballs. For the most part, I avoid turkey, because it tends to get dry and crumbly. To avoid this, Turshen recommends using dark meat, but even if you’re stuck with ground white meat, ricotta and parmesan folded into the mixture will give your balls the needed moisture to come out juicy and delicious. While a simple tomato sauce is simmering on the stovetop, the recipe has you brown the meatballs in the oven which, while less exciting than searing them, is quicker and makes for much less cleanup. Once the balls are browned and the sauce is simmered, all that’s left to do is combine the two, and you’re good to go. A very good case for eating more turkey. — Elazar Sontag, Eater staff writer

Korean Barbecue-Style Meatballs

Kay Chun, NYT Cooking

I’m not sure what makes these inherently “Korean barbecue-style,” but these are a great baseline meatball: the Ritz crackers are a delightfully retro ingredient that keeps them moist and light in the middle. To this basic recipe I usually add regular soy sauce (instead of the light soy sauce and added salt the recipe calls for), a couple inches’ worth of diced ginger, a splash of sesame oil, and a heaping tablespoon of sambal oelek for spice. They bake beautifully in the oven, developing a nice crust in the outside that gives way perfectly when you stab them with a fork. — Erin DeJesus, Eater.com lead editor

Greek Chicken Meatballs in Lemon Cream Sauce

Little Spice Jar

The algorithm got me on this one: I saw a photo of these meatballs on my Instagram Explore page and had to have them immediately. If you love an absurd amount of lemon like I do, this will be the recipe of your dreams. Little Spice Jar’s chicken meatballs were ridiculously easy to make — as most meatballs are, I’d say — but the addition of feta to the mixture really kept them from getting dry and crumbly. The sauce process is a little bit more involved but still manageable — just heed the author’s advice about keeping an eye on its thickness as it sets a bit more with time. Mine certainly did, but I whisked in a little chicken stock at the end and thinned it back out to a pourable consistency. I paired ‘em with buttered orzo and the leftovers held up perfectly for days. — Stefania Orrù, supervising producer

Chinese Lion’s Head Pork Meatballs With Vermicelli and Cabbage

Shao Z., Serious Eats

A few years back, I made it one of my kitchen goals to cook 52 different meatball recipes in a year, and many of my favorites came not from recipes, but from improvisation — figuring out for myself how to make riffs like buffalo chicken or chicken marsala meatballs. But for some of the more elaborate ones, I needed some guidance, and these lion’s head meatballs from Serious Eats were among those. Delicate in nature, large in size, and with multiple proteins, this style of meatball can be tricky to pull off; it’s a bit of a process. But this recipe ensures they come out tender, without falling apart. Simmered with broth, vegetables, and vermicelli noodles, it’s a comforting one-dish meal. — Missy Fredrick, cities manager

Turkey and Courgette Burgers With Spring Onion and Cumin

Ottolenghi

Americans don’t give turkey enough love. If it’s not Thanksgiving, most folks think of turkey as a healthier alt meat, especially in contexts where beef or pork shine a little brighter, like meatballs. If there’s a dish to convert naysayers, it’s this one for turkey and courgette “burgers,” which I originally found in the cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (turkey is very popular in Israel). The turkey shines alongside courgette (zucchini), which adds moisture, while the coriander (cilantro), mint, cumin, garlic, and green onion add nuance and pep. Plus, the excellent, zingy sumac sauce would taste delicious on an old shoe. Despite the word burger in the name, these are like bullet-shaped meatballs, ideal for snacking by hand or plopping on a grain bowl along with more of that sumac sauce. — Nick Mancall-Bitell, associate editor

Sotto’s Grilled Pork Meatballs

Steve Samson and Zack Pollack, adapted by Cathy Chaplin
For a while, my favorite Italian restaurant in LA was a little basement place off Pico Boulevard called Sotto. The food was exclusively, obsessively, rigorously southern Italian (down to the chef’s refusal to use Parmigiano Reggiano) and I loved pretty much every dish. One of my go-to orders was these super light grilled pork meatballs — like the summer garden party of the meatball world. They were bright, electric actually, with loads of acid from the grill char and the fresh herby flavor of parsley. It’s the kind of thing you want atop a pile of bitter greens, not spaghetti. Sotto closed in January of 2019, but luckily LA writer (and current Eater LA associate editor) Cathy Chaplin had included a recipe for the Sotto meatballs in her 2013 compilation cookbook Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles, and the local public TV station KCET excerpted it for their site not long after publishing. It is very much worth digging up today, even if you don’t have the Sotto sense memories to draw on. They’re petit, porky, and perfect. — Lesley Suter, travel editor

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