Turkey Meatballs, prompted by my better half.

fennel seeds

The other day, after dinner, my ‘better half’ mentioned that he was “kinda over salads, I think”. This being said after a dinner of, you guessed it: salad. Now, you may (but probably don’t) remember that all we craved in China were salads. So after that quip, there was clearly a ‘lesser’ half at the dinner table.

As much as I forcefully will things to happen – say, for instance, eating salads every night for dinner – minds change, people change, ideas change, and circumstances change. Pretty soon I’ll be hearing crazy talk like, “let’s have Chinese food for dinner” (which happened this weekend, so crazy!). I hate being thrown curveballs.

I like things to be consistent. I like to establish solid routines, and I hate getting told things are probably better otherwise. This is why I prefer to keep the friends that I already have over making new ones- no offense. I don’t care how nice our neighbors are, they’re not my friends (yet). I’d prefer to settle in a nice apartment for several years if I can and really making it my own, rather than picking up and moving every two years into places with ugly walls and even uglier furniture I don’t care if we can buy slipcovers. Actually, I care, because slipcovers are ugly too.

dry meatball mixture

I get nervous when I am unfamiliar with a neighborhood, or a person, or say, when I’m riding a bike at a comfortable speed and my husband tells me to go faster. I can’t! Not outside my comfort zone! And don’t tell me I can, that just pisses me off. I’ll do it at my own pace. My pace includes a good, solid routine wherever I am. Trust me, I’d get lost in a whirlwind of to-do lists and Facebook searches without a good routine.

Do you hear how ridiculous all of this makes me sound?

meatballs_raw

I try (pretend) to be the ‘go-with-the-flow, throw-me-a-curveball’ sort of girl. And for many of you, I’ve got your fooled! Suckers! Because I can actually play this part really well, and by now I’ve had a good ten-year run at practice. But at the heart of it, I’m always thinking, always planning, always comparing one situation or person or instance to the next. Chances are, I’m always more anxious than you think.

And no, I’m not on any meds. Yet.

At the end of my yoga class yesterday, the instructor reminded us to be mindful and take inspiration in the every day. Maybe I was hypnotized by yogic bliss, but it her simple reminder stuck with me in a more profound way. Because, being a someone’s ‘other half’ doesn’t fare well with this ‘no-change’ policy. Neither does having to move around every two years for said ‘other half’s’ job.

meatballs in the pan

So I’ve got a new mantra, which is to embrace the recent changes in my life without too many of my pre-supposed standards : marriage, moving back to DC, establishing a career from home. If I’m going to be a ‘writer’, well, I’d better go ahead and start writing. If I’m going to go to yoga every day, I guess I’d better put on my leggings as soon as I wake up in the morning. And finally, if my husband says he doesn’t like salads anymore, then for effing sakes, I’ll make a huge batch of meatballs instead. It’s the little things first, people.

This blog has recently been a lot of showing off pictures and bragging about where I’ve been. A lot of mundane activity, in other words. These are slightly deeper thoughts, and more importantly, help to get me back to what I’ve always loved to do, which is write, and also make and share some food. So here, here’s a recipe for some turkey meatballs. At least here, when my dining companion suggests for a change, I can make it happen, now. As far as this writing thing goes, well, we’ll see.

Turkey Meatballs

inspired by a recipe from the blog Arugula Files, here

  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium cubanelle pepper (or poblano pepper)
  • 6 cremini mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesano reggiano
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey thigh
  • 2 eggs
  1. In a small skillet, toast fennel seeds for 2-3 minutes over med-high heat, shaking pan often to prevent burning. When seeds are browned, transfer to a spice mill or grinder. Grind to a fine powder.
  2. Place white onion, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms into a food processor, and pulse until chopped very finely. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processer (as I don’t), chop each ingredient very very finely the old fashioned way – with a good chef’s knife and a big cutting board – and transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Add ground fennel seeds as well. Add 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup breadcrumbs. Stir and mix very well, until all ingredients are incorporated. Add a few good pinches of salt, and freshly ground pepper. The brilliant thing about this method of mixing all the ‘dry’ ingredients together is that you can still taste and adjust for seasoning before you add your meat.
  3. Place your turkey meat in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Beat eggs, and add them to the bowl. Using one hand, fold turkey once or twice to slightly mix in eggs, being careful not to squish the meat between your fingers. Add about 1/3 of the dry onion/breadcrumb mixture to the meat, and fold several more times again. Repeat two more times, adding 1/3 of the mixture and incorporating it into the meat until well-mixed. Stirring and mixing too vigorously and too much will cause a firmer, harder, and thus drier meatball, so make sure you are conscious to use your hands lightly.
  4. Using a spoon, scoop 1-oz. sized meatballs, gently forming or rolling with your hands. Again, don’t play with the meatballs too much or pack them too tightly. Weighing each meatball is encouraged, although feel free to eyeball your amounts if you’re short on time. I like my meatballs on the smaller side of things. Feel free to double the weight and make ‘em bigger if you like! Place the balls on a nonstick surface, such as a baking sheet lined with silpat or foil.
  5. Once all the meat is formed into balls, wash your hands thoroughly. Heat about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat, or enough oil to thickly coat the bottom of the pan. Place as many meatballs as can comfortably fit onto the skillet, and turn heat down slightly to med or med-high. Using a spatula, roll meatballs every 20-30 seconds to ensure an even, brown fry. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the outsides are completely browned. Transfer to a rack to cool. Add more meatballs into the skillet, and repeat. Continue until all the meatballs are cooked, wiping pan and adding more oil only if necessary.
  6. To finish meatballs, place a desired amount of sauce (preferably homemade) into a large pot. Place cooled meatballs into the sauce, mix a few times to ensure all meatballs are evenly coated, and turn heat down to med-low. Cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Serve hot, over noodles. Or, in a baguette with some provolone for a delicious sandwich!
**Freezing Option: Once your meatballs are completely cooled after step #5, transfer to sealable freezer bags or containers. To cook, place meatballs and sauce and cook according to directions in step #6.

Yield: 4 dozen meatballs, enough for 8-10 servings with pasta and sauce.

turkey_meatballs_2

Finally, no offense, but what’s with food in the shape of balls? Cake balls? Fish balls? No good. The only food that is acceptable in the form of balls, on my dinner table, is the rustic, authentic, meatball. I can only accept so much change, people.

  • http://lavieoverseas.com Natasha

    Sigh. I feel you. These first two weeks at post have been filled with way-outside-my-comfort-zone moments. But I keep telling myself that stuff isn’t going to happen TO me — I need to take the initiative and invite someone to hang out (or at least, accept the invitation from someone else), send out the email pitches for articles, drag myself to the non-air-conditioned gym …

    I am bookmarking this recipe!
    Natasha recently posted..Spanish Friday: Los Bailarines Salvadoreños

    • Jessie

      Natasha, it looks like you’re doing just fine. It’s the hardest thing to “take initiative”. Baby steps….!!

  • jeremy

    yum!

  • http://www.bakerita.com/ Rachel @ Bakerita

    These look so delicious! Meatballs are perfect for cold, winter nights, and yours look so good.
    Rachel @ Bakerita recently posted..Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

    • Jessie

      Thanks Rachel! The best part about this recipe is that it makes enough meatballs to freeze and save for a quick, super tasty dinner. Had a couple of friends over the other night and was able to whip up some meatball sandwiches on a whim, was perfect!