Karl’s Spanish Turkey Meatballs

Jan wanted gazpacho for dinner. I do not consider this a meal in itself, it is a liquid salad. She agreed to let me add meatballs, but only if they were turkey.

Karl’s Spanish Turkey Meatballs

Karl’s Spanish Turkey Meatballs

My last turkey meatballs were a great success, but they were very Asian. Gazpacho is a Spanish soup, so the meatballs should have a Spanish flair as well. Add some crusty bread and we have a meal. To finish off the meal, I made orange custard.

This month’s Cook’s Illustrated had an article on the perfect juicy hamburgers. I made them a few nights ago and they were very successful. It was a very good technique for making tender ground meat patties and I decided to adapt their method to turkey meatballs.

Karl’s Spanish Turkey Meatballs


Turkey Meatballs

1 pound turkey breast
2 Tbs. butter
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
1 Tbs. cilantro, minced
¼ cup Panko (bread crumbs)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. milk


2 Tbs. butter
¼ cup red onion, chopped finely
2 Tbs. celery, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
2 Tbs. flour
1 can low sodium chicken broth


1. Cut the turkey into half inch pieces and cut the butter into ¼ inch cubes.

2. Lay the meat on a plate in a single layer and sprinkle the butter, garlic, cumin, paprika, pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes over it evenly.

3. Put the plate in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.

Tip: This hardens the meat enough that it cuts, rather than mashes, the meat as you are grinding it.

4. Coarsely grind the meat and spices together.

Note: I have an old-style Moulinex food processor, that even Moulinex dosen’t make anymore. The one we got from Jan’s mother finally gave up the ghost, but we were able to find a good used one on-line. Kitchen Aid has attachments to their standing mixer that do the same things, but this seems unstable to me. Cook’s Illustrated actually used a standard food processor to cut/grind their meat, but I find these to be flimsy and unreliable.

Old-style Moulinex Food Processor

Old-style Moulinex Food Processor

5. Sprinkle the vinegar, cilantro, and bread crumbs over the meat.

6. Beat the egg and milk together and pour it over the meat mixture. Fold it in gently with a spatula.

Tip: Slide the spatula under the meat and turn it over and spread it out to mix in the egg mixture. Do not stir or mash the meat! This would release the protein myocin from the meat that would make for a dense, tough meatball.

7. When the meat is well mixed, scoop up one tablespoon and gently roll it into a ball.

8. Lay the meatballs on a tray and put them in the freezer for 45 minutes.

9. Put the frozen meatballs onto the oven on the highest rack and broil them for 8-10 minutes.

Tip: You are trying for a good browning on top. The frozen meat will brown on the outside, but not cook through.

10. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, over medium high heat, and sauté the onions and celery until they are starting to pick up some color.

Tip: You want a plan large enough that the meatballs will fit in a single layer.

11. Add the garlic and paprika. Sauté for one minute more, until fragrant.

12. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until a roux is formed and the flour is fully cooked, about two minutes.

13. Stir in the broth and cook until it is starting to thicken.

14. Place the meatballs in the sauce, browned side up, and spoon the sauce over the tops.

15. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 6-10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is fully thickened.

16. Serve with crusty bread and gazpacho.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Poultry, Turkey

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