A mix of ingredients in meatballs

May 03, 2009|By CHINA MILLMAN / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The arrival of review copies of cookbooks always gives me a little thrill, but ripping open a thick envelope to find "A Homemade Life" was like opening a long-anticipated birthday present.

Many people before me have recognized Molly Wizenberg's talent for stringing together words as well as recipes. Her blog, Orangette (, is one of the most widely acclaimed food blogs on the Web. Since last spring she has had a monthly column in Bon Appetit, and now she has a book, "A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table" (Simon & Schuster, 2009).

For these meatballs, I like to use an ice-cream scoop to form meatballs, to ensure that they're all the same size. If you freeze the meatballs, cook them by letting them defrost at room temperature for about 45 minutes to an hour, browning in a pan as instructed, then finishing them in a 350 degree oven, ideally on a wire rack set in a baking sheet.



For the yogurt sauce:

1 cup plain yogurt (not low-fat or nonfat)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the meatballs:

1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped pine nuts
1/2 cup golden raisins, halved or coarsely chopped if large
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey (half breast meat, half thigh meat)
About 4 tablespoons olive oil

First make the yogurt sauce. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt and whisk to combine. Set aside at room temperature to let the flavors develop while you make the meatballs.

To make the meatballs, combine onion through black pepper in a large bowl. Add the ground meat and, using your hands, break it up into small chunks. Then massage and gently knead the meat to incorporate the ingredients. Mix until combined, but do not overmix: meat gets tough easily. With damp hands, gently pinch off hunks of the mixture and roll into 1-1/2-inch balls. Set aside on a large plate. (Raw meatballs can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Or place them, not touching, on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until hard, then transfer them to a heavy-duty plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 weeks.)

Warm 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add about half of the meatballs, taking care not to crowd them. As they begin to color, turn them gently with tongs and lightly shake the pan to roll them around, so they get some color on every side. Don't worry if a few of the pine nuts fall out into the pan; that happens. The meatballs are ready when they're evenly browned and feel pleasantly firm, but not rock-hard. You can also cut one or two of them in half, if you like, to make sure they're cooked through.

Transfer the finished meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels. If the skillet looks dry, add the remaining two tablespoons oil. Cook the remaining meatballs.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with the yogurt sauce.

Yield: About 30 small meatballs, enough for 4 servings.

-- "A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table"

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