Turkey Bacon Meatballs

I was poking through the freezer this weekend looking for something interesting to make for dinner, when I found a couple pounds of frozen ground turkey meat.  I pulled it out and put it in the microwave to thaw, while I debated my options. I could do a turkey meatloaf (I love Ina's recipe) or a quick chili, but I decided that meatballs would be best because the leftovers would be great for lunch throughout the week.

As turkey breast is pretty lean, I usually like to mix it with something to keep it moist and tender. Unfortunately, I didn't have much in the fridge--no herbs except for a tiny bit of almost-dried-out-parsley, only one small onion, no milk or yogurt or bread or eggs. I was even out of some of my favorite dried spices!

Slim pickings, indeed.

But then I found a forgotten 1/2 pound of bacon in the deli drawer. The good bacon. Thick, smokey stuff from Schaller & Weber, a local German-style charcuterie shop that makes some of my favorite meat products (including the ham I use in these ham and egg cups).

Perfect!

I put the bacon in my food processor, along with the small onion, and a couple cloves of garlic, and processed it until it was all finely ground. I gently mixed the bacon mixture into the turkey along with a bit of salt and red pepper flakes for heat. I added chia seeds for extra fiber, but that part is totally optional.

I delicately formed the mixture into large 2 to 3" meatballs, and arranged them on a lined baking sheet. I prefer to bake my meatballs; I just find that it's quicker and less messy.

I then finish them off with a gentle simmer in marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought) and serve them topped with a bit of grated cheese and some of that aforementioned dried out parsley.

Eugene came home while the meatballs were baking and gave me a bag of cheese, peaches, and bread that he had bought at a farm stand (he had come back from upstate NY where he was running the Warrior Dash).

We opened up a bottle of wine from our recent North Fork trip and had ourselves a mighty fine dinner indeed!

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Turkey Bacon Meatballs Recipe
Make 12 large meatballs (about 4 servings)

Ingredients
1/2 pound thick-cut Black Forest or other smoked bacon
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 pounds ground turkey
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
3 cups marinara or tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup chicken broth or water
Grated cheese, fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. In a food processor, combine bacon, onion, and garlic. Process until bacon and onion are finely grated (about 1 minute). In a large bowl, combine bacon mixture, ground turkey, salt, black pepper, red chili flakes, and chia seeds. Use your hands to mix thoroughly until evenly distributed.

Gently form the mixture into 12 large meatballs and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes, or until cooked through and golden on top.

Transfer meatballs to a deep skillet or saucepan and pour the sauce on top along with the broth or water. Simmer on low for 15 minutes, turning the meatballs occasionally to make sure they're fully covered with the sauce. Serve meatballs with the sauce on their own or with pasta or other sides. Store leftovers in remaining sauce.

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