I was raised on meatballs. As an Italian, every Sunday my whole family would pile into my grandpa’s house and sit around a large table for a dinner that was always the same… macaroni and meatballs. My grandpa would wake up very early Sunday morning, go to church and come home to start cooking. He made his whole family meatballs and sauce from scratch every single Sunday.
His recipe is something that all the aunts, uncles and grand kids now have, but no matter who makes them, they are never as good as grandpas. I’m quite convinced there was a “secret ingredient” he used that he omitted from the recipe he wrote down. Often, he would stuff a few with raisins or pine nuts, but whoever found them would promptly pass it right back to Papa. I loved helping him cook and watch the meatballs come together quickly, brown on the stove and simmer in sauce for hours. They were never dry, never crumbly, never overcooked… always perfect. I hold onto my grandpas love of food and fresh ingredients every time I cook. While he never touched Chinese food, I do think he’d be proud of the way I cook.
Sesame-Ginger Turkey Meatballs
For the balls…
16 Oz. Ground Turkey (Try Shady Brook Farms 93% Lean, 7% Fat)
1/4 cup cole slaw mix (red & green cabbage, carrots)
1/4 cup carrot tops (Optional – see note)
1/4 large yellow onion
few sprigs of parsley
1 Tbs sriracha
2 Tbs. ground ginger
1 tsp. sesame oil
For the sauce…
1/4 cup liquid aminos (soy sauce alternative)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. maple syrup (honey could also work)
3 Tbs. sriracha
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
First, prepare your meatballs. Dump the ground turkey in a large bowl. Finely chop the cole slaw mix, onion, carrot tops and parsley. Add that to the meat and combine. To really get the right meatball mix/consistency, you have to mix with your hands… so take off those rings and go for it.
A note about carrot tops: You may have heard something about carrot tops being poisonous… but I assure you that’s a myth. They are actually quite nutritious and rich in protein. The flavor is very earthy and very much carrot-y, and even a little bitter, but the texture is tough. I think they’re a great addition to some dishes and can be sauteed or roasted along with your carrots and other veggies. I chopped them so fine and added them, raw, right into the meat. The meatballs were dense and full of herbaceous flavor.
Once combined add to the meat 1 Tbs. sriracha, 2 Tbs. ground ginger and 1 tsp. sesame oil. Mix well with your hands. Form 24 mini meatballs and set aside.
Next, make your sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Taste and adjust to your preference.
Now, add a heaping Tbs. of coconut oil to a large saute pan. Get the oil screaming hot. To that, carefully add half the meatballs. Turn after browned on one side, then turn again. Be careful that they don’t burn and stick to the pan. Remove to a plate covered with paper towel. Add the remaining meatballs and repeat the process.
Rinse the pan and return to the heat. Add the sauce and allow it to reduce for a few minutes. When it starts simmering, add the meatballs and toss to coat. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, tossing the meatballs again in the middle of the time.
Remove from heat and serve! Enjoy.