Friday, November 20, 2015

Turkey & Rice Meatballs (Albondigas) – Perfect for Spanish Thanksgiving

Making delicious meatballs with fatty, flavorful beef is no great feat, but creating something as delectable using ground turkey is another story. As the old joke goes, it may be bland, but at least it’s dry. So, you’re going to need a very specialized strategy, and by “specialized strategy,” I mean some cold, leftover rice.

As these simmer in your sauce or soup, the grains of rice absorb moisture, swell up, and create a relatively tender, moist meatball. Above and beyond that, you’ll also want to look for ground turkey thigh meat (available at most of your higher-priced grocery chains).

By the way, like all meatball/meatloaf recipes, you can test your seasoning by cooking a small piece of the mixture before rolling your ball. Even though the meat hasn’t simmered in the sauce yet, at least you can see if it needs more salt. I’ll just fry up a little patty, and adjust if need be, and suggest you do the same.

I didn’t intend this recipe to be a Thanksgiving dinner alternative, but now that I think about it, these could actually work. Maybe you have a small group, or don’t like looking at a giant carcass on the table (hey, some people are weird like that), or your in-laws are Spanish, and you want to show them you can pronounce “albondigas.”  Whatever the occasion, I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 20-24 small meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey thigh meat
1 packed cup cooked white long grain rice
3 cloves crushed garlic 
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 large egg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sauce (I didn’t measure these ingredients, so these are just guesses)
2 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste


Eirik Dahl said...

I have been following you for years now and i love your videos!
Keep em coming for many more years!

Bone Saw said...

There's a ton of regional variants for albondigas all across South America, and in many countries it's much more common to use ground poultry in these instead of beef or pork! The versions I'm more familiar with are typically served in a very light broth laden with vegetables like carrots, potatoes, squash, etc, and are generally poached instead of browned first. I learned said recipe from a Mexican friend so obviously that's not what you were going for here, but just sharing.

This looks delicious, and much more like a filling dinner rather than a light lunch, though!

Jason C said...

You missed the perfect opportunity, "you are the boss of your albondigas".

Chris K. said...

What about milk-soaked bread cubes instead of rice for the filler? Do you think rice does a better job as a ball moisturizer?

I was thinking maybe some ricotta but that's not very Spanish. Or low fat.

michiel said...

Hey Chef,

why do you use alluminiumfoil and not your silicon bakingmat?
Is there a reason?

with best regards from Belgium,


Jim Spatz said...

Good morning CJ. I have been looking for a "freakishly small wooden spoon" for a while without success. Do you have any suggestions on where I might find one?

Stephanie H said...

Just made this over some Spanish rice, really phenomenal. Thanks for another amazing recipe :)

Sandy said...

These are amazing! I took your suggestion and added some chopped golden raisins (in place of currants), slivered almonds, and sautéed onions to the mix. It's a shame I'm scarfing these by myself over the sink, because I could have used these meatballs to impress people. Oh well, next time.

Justs said...

Can anyone give me some advice/pointers on the "prepared tomato sauce" part? It's a bit of a black box to me.

Marla said...

Excellent recipe! I tried it tonight, and it was great. Justs, you can use marinara sauce as the '"prepared tomato sauce".

S Bufford said...

I just made these and they are very good. Next time I will use less salt and cayenne.