Friday, November 5, 2010

Turkey Cocktail Meatballs with Orange Cranberry Glaze – A Holiday Take on One of the Most Absurd Appetizers Ever

It was at the height of my food snobbery (I've since been cured) when I first came across the preposterous "cocktail meatballs in grape jelly." I won't pretend I remember the occasion, but I do remember thinking, wow, that's sounds pretty disgusting. Then I tasted it. It was good. How was that possible?

The meatballs certainly weren't homemade, probably straight from the frozen foods aisle at Costco. The crock pot they were in wasn't a pretty sight – dirty-gray balls swimming in an oddly colored pink jelly. But, despite all of this, the dish was surrounded by happy, laughing people, drink in one hand, toothpick-skewered meatball in the other.

It was there I realized that when it comes to party f
ood, some things just couldn't be explained. So, with that as my inspiration, I bring you these turkey cocktail meatballs with orange cranberry glaze. While not quite as "meaty" as the original, this much lower-fat version would make a nice addition to your entertaining repertoire.

One note about the diced hot peppers you'll see me add in the video: Sweet cancels heat. Do not be scared to add these because you don't like spicy food. When you're dealing with a sweet sauce, which this certainly is, the heat from the peppers really gets mellowed out, and you get the benefit of the flavor without all the fieriness.

By the way, you can make these ahead and freeze them without the glaze, then the day of the party, defrost them and simply reheat in the sauce. I hope you give these a try. Enjoy!




Turkey Cocktail Meatballs with Orange Cranberry Glaze Ingredients:
(makes about 32-36 cocktail-sized meatballs)
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
pinch of cayenne
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the glaze
1 cup canned jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 cup orange jelly or marmalade
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno peppers, optional
1 tablespoon minced Fresno peppers, optional
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

33 comments:

Lucia said...

For countries that don't have ground turkey, what poultry (yeah not even turkey is that common here) cuts would you use? I like the idea of ground turkey.

Chef John said...

This will work with ANY ground meat! Pork, lamb, chicken, etc.

Espresso Style said...

Sir, how many unics do you have a week?

Snir said...

Hey Chef John,

Why not use the delicious cranberry sauce you made yesterday (or two days ago)? Can I use that sauce on my turkey instead of the canned stuff?

Chef John said...

You can use any cranberry sauce for this! I just thought I would give the folks a nice easy cheap option. And, yes, as crazy as it sounds, you can use that fresh cranberry sauce on turkey ;-) (that's actually the intended purpose) Enjoy!

Chris K. said...

"...dirty-gray balls swimming in an oddly colored pink jelly."

You just planned my weekend! Thanks Chef!

Cheri Witmer said...

Looks very yummy, will try this out soon!

daphne said...

I was never brave enough to try making them at home... Hmmm.. find it delicious...

kuis student portal said...

wow.its looks delicious. i will try it.

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely making these! BTW, congrats on the SF Giants winning the WS!!!
Jackie

Stephen said...

Oh my.. looks delicious.. I'll endorse this recipe to my mom. I'm pretty sure she's goona love this!

Thanks for sharing your recipe chef.. :)

Rita said...

AHAHAHA! as always, you crack me up.

Anonymous said...

If I ever ran into you in an airport or something, I don't think I could resist the urge to just undress you right there and shower you with kisses.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. Could you do a video on honey glazed chicken? BTW, I love your sense of humor in your videos.

sequimteeth said...

Made it last night. Used frozen organic ground turkey. The sauce is super (used orange marmalade and Anaheim instead of Fresno - that's all they had to go with the Japaleno) Wife asked if I would make it with fresh ground turkey breast (which I will do and grind myself) and to use the whole cranberry sauce from the can instead of jellied. You answered that question. The frozen turkey was soso. This week I will remake with fresh turkey and see how it changes. Thank you for your guidance guidance.

Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie said...

I always heard that ol' thing with the grape jelly as half grape jelly and half Heinz Chili Sauce.

One thing about this recipe that makes it a little less absurd - at least for me - is the fact that Trader Joe's has frozen turkey meatballs. I think this combination with cranberry sauce would really be tasty. You've got tart, sweet, salty and other flavor profiles all together.

Diana said...

Wow, these look really delicious!

Btw, it was nice meeting you at Foodbuzz this weekend! I'm hoping to put some of your video blogging tips to use some time soon. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thanks! :) Diana (The Chic Life)

Steve said...

Chef:

Any reason not to use wine -- like maybe port or Marsala -- instead of water? If I'm adding liquid, I prefer something with some flavor.

Chef John said...

go for it!

NoUseForAName said...

Chef John - can these be made ahead of time? Perhaps the browning can take place a day or two before hand, and then they can be cooked the rst of the way before eating? Or would it be better to cook them through and store them in the sauce and then finish cooking them? Suggestions and thoughts are welcome.
Thanks!

Chef John said...

yes, cook ahead, and just reheat in sauce. enjoy!

Ami said...

What exactly is in the poultry seasoning you used?

Chef John said...

Poultry Seasoning is a blend of thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, and nutmeg.

Marianey said...

Hello, if I were to make this with fresh onion and garlic, what would the conversion be? Sorry about the inconvenience but I own none of these spices but I do have some onions and garlic:)

Chef John said...

not an exact science, but maybe 1/2 cup minced onions and 2-3 cloves of finely minced garlic.

Moody said...

making them as we speak! thanks friend!

sequimteeth said...

Made it with fresh turkey ilo frozen and results for me we way better. Strange how things turn out better if you just follow the recipe......

Rich Stillwell said...

Chef John...
Thank you SO much for posting this recipe. I made it tonight for my family before dinner and it was a HUGE hit. Even better than I had imagined it would be. Thanks again.
Here it is:
http://richstillwell.com/images/xmasmeatballs3.jpg

http://richstillwell.com/images/xmasmeatballs4.jpg

Nicole Ahlgren said...

Chef,

Do you have a written copy of the directions for this recipe. My phone doesn't like videos!

Thanks,
Nicole

Chef John said...

I don't, but many are posted on Allrecipes.com. Just search "Turkey Cocktail Meatballs" and see if avail. enjoy!

Lori Price said...

chef john i was wondering if i could do this recipie with the grape jelly instead of the orange marmelaide and regular hambergur meatballs would it still taste good

ahewi76 said...

Considering addng ground pork to provide moisture and flavour. Thoughts?

Chef John said...

Of course! Pork always works!