17 September 2012

Eats: teriyaki meatballs

Switching grocery stores is hard, dear reader. There aren’t any Krogers here, so instead we’re Schnucks shoppers now. All my coupon tricks, the memorized aisles so I could write my grocery list in order, the rhythm of when particular items go on sale... all different now. The stress of it is surely why I have yet to update my sidebar to reflect our current location, I’m sure.

And one of the biggest differences is in the meat prices. Perhaps we were spoiled in Nashville, perhaps it’s like this everywhere else...? But for whatever reason, meat costs twice as much here in St. Louis. We’ve been to different chains all over town, but the prices are unfortunately consistent. And they are high. I never paid more than $2/pound for chicken breasts in Nashville, but here, I’m lucky to find it under $4. Beef is the same way. Geez, practically everything is the same way.

So I’m having to shop sales more than ever now, in an attempt to keep our grocery budget under control. And recently, the sale was ground turkey. Fortunately, I remembered that I’d wanted to try this recipe for meatballs with a teriyaki glaze. I figure turkey could work as a leaner meat, so I scooped it up!

The ingredients list at the source list seems long, yes. But it’s easy, and flexible! In a bowl, dump together a pound of ground turkey, an egg, a half-cup of breadcrumbs (I used seasoned, because it’s what I had), a tablespoon of minced garlic, a sprinkle of ground ginger (I’m not a huge ginger fan), several shakes of soy sauce, and some dried green onions I found in my cabinet that may be from when my mom was initially stocking her kitchen in the 1970s. Hmm.

I made a few changes to the long ingredients list, too. Because I was out of black pepper that particular day, I sprinkled in a bit of red pepper instead. And I threw in some dried white onions too, because why not.

Now mix it together! I’m sorry, but the easiest way is with your hands. Just remember, at least you’re not having to wash your hands every few minutes so you can take a photo.

I’d really like to try to make this into a meatloaf someday, but I have to wait until the ground turkey goes on sale again. For today, I followed the recipe and used my cookie scoop to make perfectly uniform meatballs.

I got more than the suggested thirty meatballs because my scoop was a bit small, I guess. But hey! That’s the price you pay for perfectly uniform meatballs.

Then pop them in a 400-degree oven for thirty minutes. A broiler pan would be good to allow the fat to drip off – I underestimated the amount of fat the turkey would render. Which all drained towards the front, thanks to my un-level oven rack.

I would also recommend turning them a few times during the thirty minutes, especially if you missed the memo about the broiler pan. All my meatballs looked like this on the bottom. Yikes.

But no worries! All mistakes can be saved with the glaze, also at the recipe source, which you can make while the meatballs are baking. I made it by diluting half a cup soy sauce with half a cup of water, then adding half a cup of brown sugar, a shake each of red wine vinegar and sesame oil, a very light dusting of powdered ginger, and sesame seeds.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then add a tablespoon of cornstarch diluted in a few tablespoons of water. Add slowly while stirring, over low heat. Don’t go too fast or too hot and get cooked cornstarch chunks!

After a few more minutes over medium-low heat, you should have a beautifully thickened glaze:

Let it cool a bit and then toss with the meatballs, which should be baked through by now:

So how did we like them? Normally we’re a stroganoff meatball family – and even then I don’t make the meatballs because they require getting my hands dirty. But I really liked this as an alternative to the creamy-mushroom-style that we usually have for meatballs! And really, I’m pleased to have a way to make an Asian-style dish with ground meat. Mr. P would prefer sliced filets in a stir-fry instead of this, I’m sure... but not for twice the price. So having this recipe as a money-saver is great. You really can’t predict what’s going to go on sale that week, right? At least, not at Schnucks.

I served the meatballs and glaze with a microwavable frozen-veggie mix and simple white rice, to balance out the challenge of meatball-making. It comes together so easily! Enjoy!