Monday, August 22, 2011
Swedish meatballs and mushroom stroganoff
I am fortunate enough to already have a couple of great recipes for turkey meatballs; one with a few scoops of pesto mixed into the meat and then simmered in marinara, and another more simple meatball served with a lovely tart cranberry sauce, a little riff on Thanksgiving dinner (minus the following week of dry leftovers). Despite the existence of these known winners, I had a hankering for spiced Swedish meatballs. I wanted a more robust sauce than the typical Swedish meatball condiment, so I read a few recipes and Frankensteined them all into this, using half a pound of raw ground turkey leftover from making my husband a taco pizza the other night. Yes, you read that right. No, I don't want to talk about it.
A big concern when cooking with ground turkey is because it's so very lean, it can easily dry out. Not so with these guys. These suckers are moist. I think the trick is soaking your bread crumbs in milk before mixing them into the meat. As Mr. Batali would say, I'm talking "big boy bread crumbs", as in made from actual bread, not the sawdust from the little blue cardboard can. "You're such a food snob! Like I have fresh bakery bread just LAYING AROUND everyday! GAWD," you say. Not so, friends. I just freeze that shit. Whenever you've got half a baguette or hunk of sourdough that you know you're not going to eat (shame on you), tear it into hunks, pop into a Ziploc and freeze. Then you can just take out as much as you need, give it a rough chop (very easily to do when frozen) and broil for a minute to toast up and bring back to life. Vwa-lah, lovely fresh bread crumbs whenever you need them. I don't want to know what people did before Ziploc bags. Those were uncivilized times.
I served with simple sauteed Swiss chard from the garden. Sweden, Switzerland, close enough, yes? It's unbelievable how happy my Swiss chard is in this relentless heat. It may be the only green thing in our entire yard (grass, sadly, included).
~ 1/2 lb ground turkey
~ 1/3 cup big ol' bread crumbs, allowed to soak just covered in milk a few minutes until soft
1 egg white
a quarter of a small onion, grated (I used red onion, but a shallot would be great)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
~ 4 oz linguine, or whatever pasta shape you like
the rest of the small onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 or 7 big mushrooms, sliced (I used wonderful local brand Kitchen Pride portabellas)
splash of cognac
1 tsp tomato paste (I like the stuff in the tube)
~ 1 cup of low sodium chicken stock
few shakes of sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tsp Dijon mustard
~ 2 tbsp cream
Put a pot of water on to boil for your pasta.
In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, soaked bread crumbs (if there's a lot of excess milk left over pour it off, but mine soaked into the crumbs almost entirely), egg white, grated onion, allspice, nutmeg, and a good pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well with your hands, but avoid squishing the meat through your fingers - you just want it uniformly combined, not pasty. Meat paste is bad. These are pretty wet meatballs, which makes them a pain in the ass to form, but they redeem themselves through moisture redemption when cooked. Attempt to form into 8 evenly-sized meatblobs and set aside.
Cook your pasta according to the package directions, then drain and set aside. Also, lightly season and cook down your Swiss chard in a drizzle of olive oil and set aside.
Heat a big glug of olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Brown the turkey meatballs on all sides. Remove from the pan and add the onions, with more oil if necessary. Caramelize for a few minutes, then season with a pinch of kosher salt and allow to soften a few minutes more. Add the garlic and mushrooms along with the cognac (not over the flame, y'all), scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook the cognac out and let the mushrooms brown for a few minutes. Next add the tomato paste, chicken stock, paprika, and meatballs back to the pan. Allow to cook for a few minutes on the first side, then flip the meatballs cook down a few minutes more. If the liquid level gets too low, add a little more stock or water (if you add more stock, watch how much salt you add). When the meatballs are done and tender, stir in the Dijon and cream and bring back to a simmer for just a minute. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve heaped over the linguine with chard on the side and sprinkle with paprika. I would have killed for a handful of parsley to garnish, but twas not meant to be.
Serves 2, takes under 40 minutes. Really, the meatballs would serve three people, we had leftovers.