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FRONT BURNER: Jalapenos, cheese complement turkey meatballs

by Kelly Brant | March 1, 2023 at 2:21 a.m.
Turkey Meatballs With Cheese and Jalapeno (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

Meatballs are my favorite thing to make with ground turkey. Sure, you can use ground turkey in just about any recipe that calls for ground beef, and often you might not notice the difference. Meatballs are the exception. I think turkey meatballs are better.

I make them with Italian seasonings to serve with spaghetti and red sauce. They're good served stroganoff-style over egg noodles. But I love them best with a Greek influence — slathered with tzatziki or bathed in lemon sauce.

This recipe adapted from The New York Times rounds out my top five. Here, they're filled with jalapeno peppers, green onions, cumin and cheese.

I've made a few minor modifications to the original recipe — instead of coarsely chopping the jalapeno and onion, I prefer a fine dice for better, more even distribution, and I make these with Monterey Jack cheese (hello, cumin and jalapeno!) rather than fresh mozzarella.

I serve them over rice and top everything with a squeeze of lime and a little salsa verde. Beans, roasted carrots and red bell peppers, steamed yellow squash or zucchini, leafy green salad or corn all make great sides to these meatballs.

Turkey Meatballs With Cheese and Jalapeno

  • ½ cup crushed buttery crackers, such as Ritz (about 12 crackers)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and green parts, finely diced
  • 1 to 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded if desired, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 ½ ounces Monterey Jack cheese, diced (about ½ cup)

Heat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the cracker crumbs, egg, cumin, a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper until a paste forms. Stir in most of the green onions and jalapenos (reserve a little of each for garnish). Add the turkey and use your hands to mix until combined. Add the cheese and mix just until combined. The mixture will be sticky.

Using wet hands, divide and roll mixture into 12 meatballs (about 3 tablespoons each) and place on the prepared pan. Bake until bottoms are golden and meatballs have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 15 minutes. Garnish with reserved green onions and jalapenos.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from Ali Slagle via The New York Times


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