Sunday, November 7, 2010

All the Flavor of Thanksgiving…Not the Way You’d Expect

Before I write my next post in the Local Luxury Dinner Party series, I wanted to share my fun dinner!

I have been working hard to plan meals for the week and get a lot of cooking done on Sundays. This takes away the stress of thinking of something to make every night and frees up more time for homework (well, maybe twitter and some TV watching too). Today when I pulled out my notebook to plan, I decided that I wouldn’t consult any cookbooks. I wanted to be creative and come up with my own ideas for the week.

When we get lazy about planning around here, we end up eating a lot of red meat. I love to cook brisket, burgers, you name it. But for the sake of the hubby’s cholesterol, we’ve decided to have a non-red meat at home month. So that leaves us to decide on some alternative proteins. Since Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, I’ve been craving roasted turkey. When I checked out turkey breasts at Whole Foods last week I almost passed out from sticker shock. $55 for a turkey breast?!? That’s nuts! So we opted for chicken and tofu for our proteins last week.

I still had a hankering for turkey when I started planning today. I went through the ingredients in the fridge first for inspiration and remembered that I had a container of cranberries ready to be turned into sauce. With cranberry sauce in mind, I started daydreaming about Thanksgiving dinner. To me that means lots of my grandmother’s dressing (aka stuffing) with a little turkey and fixings. I figured that turkey breast would still be pricey, so I arrived on the idea of turkey + stuffing meatballs served with cranberry sauce. I picked up some pre-made stuffing mix (sacrilegious in my family), a pound of ground white meat turkey, and fresh celery. Those three ingredients set me back about $12. Added in with the ingredients I had at home, this meal didn’t break the bank. For the two of us, this will be two meals.

I used a cranberry sauce recipe from the last issue of Gourmet Magazine. The sauce, a mix of cranberries and apples, was a hit at our holiday celebration last year. I have to confess, I made mashed potatoes from a box to serve on the side. I had the box leftover from when I made a King Arthur recipe calling for instant mashed potatoes. I shouldn’t feel bad about boxed potatoes, but I usually write about local, fresh, and homemade!

The verdict on the meal? Delicious! I will definitely be making this again. Next time I’ll use a little more stuffing and add in extra poultry seasoning for a little more flavor. I think it would be fun to make the meat mixture into patty shapes and serve them on fresh kaiser rolls with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Or maybe potato rolls…. So many possibilities!

I had to laugh, as I sat down to eat I pulled out the latest Saveur to peruse. In reference to my dinner, I had to make an edit to the cover:

Thanksgiving Meatballs served with fresh cranberry sauce with apple (and instant mashed potatoes)
Makes 12 2” meatballs

1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup stuffing mix + a little extra (I used Whole Foods chicken flavor)
1/3 cup finely diced celery
1 lb. ground white meat turkey breast

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil (I used cooking spray on the foil to prevent sticking)
Mix egg and milk together in a large bowl
Add in celery and 1 cup stuffing and mix, making sure to moisten the stuffing
Add in turkey and mix using your hands, be careful not to over mix (you’ll end up with dense meatballs)
If the mixture is too wet, add in a little more stuffing
Form into 2 inch balls and place on the greased baking sheet
Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through the cooking time

Cranberry Sauce with Apple
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November 2009

16 oz. fresh cranberries, washed
1-2 apples (I used Fortune apples), peeled, cored, and diced into 1/2 in cubes
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine water, sugar, cranberries, and diced apples in a medium saucepan
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat
Cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly
The cranberries will burst and the mixture will begin to thicken (like cranberry sauce!)
You can serve immediately with the meatballs, or to make a nice presentation, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray the plastic wrap with cooking spray
Spoon the sauce into the loaf pan, cover with the plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours
Invert the loaf pan onto the plate and slice for serving

Instant Mashed Potatoes
Follow the directions, and if you really want to be gourmet, follow the microwave directions. I did use delicious Kerry Gold butter from Ireland to add flavor.

Serve and enjoy! I’m looking forward to leftovers tomorrow.

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes total (20 minutes meatballs, 15 minutes cranberry sauce, 2 minutes mashed potatoes)
Mixing bowls, spatulas, baking sheet, measuring cups, medium saucepan, microwave safe bowl, serving utensils and plates


  1. This looks great! I bet your kitchen smelled wonderful while making these up! I like how you put apples in the cranberry sauce..yum!

  2. Haha, I love this creative idea!! I've been in the mood for turkey, too!

  3. Your Thanksgiving meatballs sound great! I meant to ask you, do you have a fabulous brisket recipe that you'd like to share? I'm slowly hijacking Bret's family's cooking...

  4. Oooh, Dave would LOVE these meatballs. I'm going to have to bookmark and try. Oh, and NEVER feel bad about taking some shortcuts in the kitchen - everything in moderation, and you do what you can! ;-)

  5. I am definitely going to try this for our cooked cranberry sauce this year!

  6. Very nice, love it all, better than all the turkey work.

  7. Laura, this sounds great! Actually made me hungry so I better go find some lunch. I am going to try the Turkey Balls and volunteer to bring the cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving!

  8. Thanks all for the comments! The turkey meatballs were even tastier reheated the next day. Would love to see and hear about when you try them out. :)

  9. So creative! I love this idea Lara - Lord knows I love a good meatball!
    I can't believe the price of that turkey breast! that's highway robbery!

  10. Meatballs made with stuffing are the best!!!

  11. I finally tried the turkey meatballs and cranberry sauce tonight. Fabulous and so simple!! It was a big hit and really got me in the mood for Thanksgiving! Thanks for the idea, Lara!

  12. I finally tried the turkey meatballs and cranberry sauce tonight. Fabulous and so simple!! It was a big hit and really got me in the mood for Thanksgiving! Thanks for the idea, Lara!


I love your comments! Let me know what you think!


Related Posts with Thumbnails