Apple Cider-Glazed Turkey Meatballs

by Susan on October 2, 2012

We have an amazing apple cider mill in the next town, and while my kids love to obviously drink the stuff, I’m not huge on giving them too much juice. I’ve already made some donuts with it, but tonight wanted to try my hand on incorporating cider into something savory. I found a beautiful post for Apple Cider-Glazed Meatballs on Pinterest, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens. I tweaked it a good deal more, and the results were dinner.

First, I love the idea of pairing flavors like this with turkey meatballs, as the protein has a tendency toward being a bit bland and dry without being jazzed up. Incorporating apple into the meatball itself is a good way to add both flavor and moisture. I ditched the breadcrumbs, though, and instead opted for almond meal.

The extra step of baking the meatballs on a cooling rack allows any excess grease to drip off, not to mention helps them keep their cute little round shape in the oven. It’s a method I’d never thought of before but will definitely be using going forward.

I cleaned up the glaze by using gluten-free soy sauce and palm sugar, but I’m also thinking honey or maple syrup would be a good sugar replacement. I have nothing against apple butter, but I didn’t happen to have any on hand. It’s the kind of ingredient that if I make or buy it never gets used up and goes to waste. I think you could omit it altogether, but I used a tbs. of cinnamon applesauce as a replacement.

The boy is very wary of anything spicy, and the presence of cayenne in the meatballs and both red pepper flakes and chili garlic sauce in the glaze promised to be too zippy for his taste buds. With my modifications there was still a slight zing but nothing that would put off a blander palate.

While meatballs with tomato-based sauce pair naturally with pasta, I sometimes find myself stuck on what to serve with other variations. These babies would go well with brown rice or egg noodles, but I was eager to sneak some vegetables onto the kids’ plates. While they haven’t been too smitten with zucchini noodles in the past, preparing them as I would pasta carbonara (ie. with bacon and parmesan) apparently made them slurp-worthy. I will be posting *that* recipe tomorrow, but for now please enjoy and try out these tasty meatballs!

Apple Cider-Glazed Turkey Meatballs

1 lb. ground turkey
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tbs. unsweetened cinnamon applesauce
1 minced shallot
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup shredded apple
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Place a cookie cooling rack on top of a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into mini meatballs (about 1 in. in diameter) and place on cooling rack. Bake for 20 minutes.

1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup gluten-free, low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbs. natural applesauce with cinnamon
3 tbs. palm sugar
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
1.5 tbs. arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
handful of chopped scallions

Combine all ingredients except scallions in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Add to a large skillet over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and simmer until it thickens (about 2 minutes). Add meatballs to skillet and push around to coat with glaze. Cook for one minute, then remove and top with chopped scallions.


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