I don’t know what it is about them as a dish that prompts this response, but I’ve just always thought of meatballs as a celebration/special occasion food. They’re like the little black dress of party foods; they go with everything. It’s never a bad time to bring them out.
Cocktail hour at a wedding? You serve meatballs.
Graduation open house? You serve meatballs.
Wedding or baby shower? You serve meatballs.
Summer barbecue for a crowd? You serve meatballs.
Typically the above scenarios will have precooked frozen meatballs in order to serve them en masse, which is perfectly fine. But I tend to prefer to make my own from scratch. I’ve shared several recipes before on the blog with different variations of meatballs. The possibilities are pretty wide for what you can come up with.
One of the more underrated ingredients that I keep in my pantry/fridge is hoisin sauce. If I had to describe the taste, I’d say it’s like…an Asian ketchup. A lot of times it’s used for stir-fries, but I actually use it for non-Asian dishes as well.
Here’s a pro-tip for you: a tablespoon or two of hoisin sauce in your beef stew broth will give it INCREDIBLE richness of flavor. I keep it on hand for that reason alone.
This recipe is pretty straight forward and easy, and the real only ‘labor’ involved in it is rolling meatballs, which I personally find somewhat therapeutic once I get into a groove. I tend to bake mine to give them a more even cook all the way around, and it’s also healthier than frying. I use ground turkey as a base, but I do add a little bit of ground pork roll sausage just to make sure they don’t dry out, as turkey can sometimes do.
The meatballs are wonderful all by themselves, but the hoisin sauce is the hero of this dish, no question. Hoisin all on it Its own is pretty thick and strong, so this one gets thinned out with some orange juice and chicken broth, then flavored with fresh ginger and sesame oil. I
Whatever the occasion you’re cooking for, I recommend trying these. They’re delicious.
Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine and Cooks Illustrated
- 3 lbs ground turkey
- 1 lb. ground sausage
- 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger root
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic clove
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 6 sliced scallions
- 1 1/2-2 cups panko breadcrumbs*
- 4 eggs
- 3 teaspoons vegetable/canola oil
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 3 scallions, white and green parts sliced 1/8 inch thick on bias
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Sesame seeds, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and place two wire racks on top of each pan. Lightly spray the rack with cooking spray and set aside
In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey and sausage with the ginger, garlic, sugar, pepper, and scallions.
Add the soy sauce, then the eggs. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of the panko breadcrumbs and mix together with your hand; don’t knead it too much though, or the meatballs may be tough. If the mixture seems too wet, you can always add the extra 1/2 cup more of the panko breadcrumbs to tighten it up.
Shape into meatballs (about 2 heaping tablespoons each. Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) rack in an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes on the middle rack, or until browned.
Melt about 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan and heat until shimmering. Add the grated ginger and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
Add the hoisin sauce, orange juice, and broth and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Simmer until liquid reduces and thickens to desired consistency.
Stir in the sesame oil and the scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the sauce over the meatballs and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.