Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sauteed Turkey Meat Balls with Stew

When I smell the crisp and cool autumn air, I imagine the delicious pumpkin pies and the stews simmering on my stove; and...Aaachoo! Unfortunately, at this time of year, mid-September on the east coast of Canada, is the worst time of year for people like me having ragweed allergies. Although I'm usually not thrilled about taking antihistamines, there are days when my allergies are so bad, when my runny nose just can't stop running, my watery eyes are burning like fire and I just can't take it anymore. I'd have had it and say to myself; "OK, that's enough, I'll take one of these little tablets, even if they're expired, but at least I'll breathe normally and be able to smell the food I'm cooking". Problem solved.

For the menu today, I'd like to share with you a recipe for a fabulous dish that turned noses and eyes for its remarkable herbal fragrance and it's velvety texture. It's a dish I had made at least 10 years ago for a couple of friends. I just saw them again a week ago and all they were talking about was that famous dish, which I couldn't remember off hand, and that I had prepared for them. Quickly, I had to look back at my old handwritten cooking recipes and couldn't find it anywhere! So I had to rely on my neurons (or what's left of it, being in my 30's already) and be innovative. Turns out that my intuition had picked up quickly on what I used to make so often a long time ago. And because things change constantly, I had to add a bit of my new essence in this revamped recipe, which turned out more flavourful and soft and creamy in texture than the original recipe. It's also a great alternative to the traditional roasted turkey for Thanksgiving dinners.

There are four important steps to this recipe.
1) the turkey mixture has to be marinated overnight
2) the turkey meat balls have to be sauteed first
3) the veggies; carrots and potatoes also to be sauteed separately
4) prepare the stew

Recipe "au pif":
Turkey meal balls:
1 1/2 lb ground turkey (or ground chicken)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 1/2 cup of cold white steamed/cooked rice
1 large egg
2 tbsp of spicy salt (orange in colour, found in caribbean food stores. Garlic salt will also do)
1 tsp ground pepper
3 Sage leaves
2 tbsp Canola oil to sauter meat balls
Potatoes and Carrots:
4 medium sized potatoes chopped in 2 inch cubes or pieces
1 cup peeled and washed baby carrots
3 Sage leaves
1/2 tsp spicy salt or garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp Canola oil to sauter potatoes and carrots

Sauce for the stew:
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp pureed tomatoes
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp regular curry powder (mild or hot)
2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
2 tsp red hot chili tabasco sauce
2/3 cup water
3 stems of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Canola oil
In large bowl, mix turkey/chicken, rice, egg, onions, spices and sage with your hands until everything is well blended together.
Cover mixture with a plastic film and refrigerate overnight to allow hardening of the mixture. This will make the meat ball rolling process much easier.
Make approx. 2-inch-diameter turkey meat balls with your hands, until no more meat mixture is left. Should make about 25-30 meat balls.
Sauté the meat balls in hot oil, on medium-high heat, in a large sauce pan and shake the pan to continuously roll the meat balls around to ensure even browning on the outside for about 5-7 minutes. The surface of the meat balls should be lightly brown but the interior uncooked. It'll be cooked in the stew later.
Put meat balls aside.
In separate bowl, mix potatoes and carrots with sage and spices.
Using same saucepan in which the meat balls were sauteed, heat oil on medium-high heat and sauté for 5-7 minutes the potatoes and carrots until they have a softer texture, but not yet fully cooked.
Put potatoes and carrots aside

In same saucepan used for the meatballs and veggies, heat a little bit of canola oil on medium-high heat and stir in flour. Continuous stir until you get a paste.
Add in tomato paste and tomato puree, chicken bouillon powder, curry powder, tabasco sauce and water, and continuously stir until sauce thickens (add more water if sauce is too think. Sauce should have a gravy-consistency but still be a little runny. The sauce will thicken later with the addition of the potatoes and carrots.)
Add in the sauteed carrots, potatoes and meat balls last in the sauce. Throw in the thyme and bay leaves.
Cover and simmer at medium heat for about 30 minutes, to allow the steam to cook the turkey and vegetables.
After 30 minutes, lay on a serving dish, the vegetables and sauce and add the meat balls on that layer by pouring sauce over the meat balls.

Enjoy a hearty meal for social or family gatherings on a festive day or any other day you feel like having an internationally-flavoured stew.

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