12 August 2014

You deserve to know

Rising on a weekend morning not the third time the eyes opened from a stir but the first, was a sign that production could occur before the afternoonI made my move into the kitchen, a three second walk, shut the bedroom door and ground the coffee beans as muffled and quickly as I could. Then I made oatmeal. The beguilingly austere, toasted, steamed oats I mentioned a few months ago, with a system that leaves little mess, topped with blueberries, toasted nuts and a generous drip of maple syrup. I made extra, and left it out along with the fixings. I got in some quiet reading, then slipped out the door. The text I received while finishing up a loop at the farmer's market confirmed a few things: a) do not doubt leaving out food for men b) do not doubt oatmeal c) time on your own speed in a weekend morning transforms the day.

Then, last week started, and I got behind, again. The days long, away from home, the daily granola I brought along, a tie to my kitchen. Lunch was leftovers on a bench in the prettiest spot I could find in Battery Park, dinners planned while walking home immersed in an inner scan of what was there and what needed. One thing that's been on the queue based on the zucchini abundance: Ottolenghi's turkey-zucchini meatballs. Tender, moist and and studded with the unexpected green shreds of goodness and punchy aromatics, they hit the spot. It was too dark for a photo. I tried again the other night, thinking I got an earlier start. And then, shredding the courgette, chopping the pungent scallions and mixing ground turkey as the sun dwindled and I thought of a side, I realized it was high hopes I'd get a decent photo of them, again.

But so be it. It's the next day's photo you're getting- did I mention leftovers make an excellent room temperature antipasti or lunch? It's zucchini season and you deserve to know. I love this recipe for a few good reasons: a) Sear to start, finish in oven. This ensures even cooking and minimizes time standing over the frying pan b) ground turkey has been hated on as a dull, lean bodybuilder food, and here it gets a total makeover. I love the mildness of the light meat compared with the spices and strong herbs in the mix. c) rustic, tender, gluten-free meatballs d) any excuse for a garlic-yogurt dipping sauce. Go Ottolenghi.

Ottolenghi's turkey-zucchini meatballs with yogurt sauce
adapted from Yotom Ottolenghi's Jerusalem

notes: squeezing the zucchini a bit isn't in his instructions but the second time I did so just a little and found it helped the mix adhere a little better. Also, his sauce recipe makes a lot- this is half of that and is plenty. I am crushing over a nice smoked paprika from Savory and therefore didn't source the sumac he intends. Sue me. This was plenty good. I'm sure sumac is, too. Next time...

Yogurt Sauce
115 grams/ 1/2 c Greek yogurt or combination yogurt + sour cream or creme fraiche
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 small garlic clove, grated or minced
 Scant 1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika or 1 tsp sumac
1/4 teaspoon salt 
Generous few grinds fresh ground black pepper

500 g/ 1 pound ground turkey (white or dark meat) 
1 large egg
200 g/scant 2 c zucchini, grated
3 scallions, whites, sliced thin
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped basil or cilantro leaves
2 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Light olive or vegetable oil for searing

First make the sauce by combining all ingredients well in a bowl or working glass. Cover and chill until needed.

Oven to 425.  Line a sheet pan with parchment.
Grate the zucchini on a paper towel over a cutting board. You can either measure the weight (I used a 200gram zuc) before or your shreds after. Once grated, sprinkle with just a teensy pinch salt and let sit 3 or 4 minutes while you mince the herbs and scallions. Lightly squeeze the zuch shreds in the towel a little to move a little moisture. You don't need to be aggressive though.

In a large bowl place turkey, egg, cumin, salt, cayenne and black pepper, herbs, scallions and zucchini. Mix with your hands gently until incorporated but don't overwork it. Scoop into heaped Tbsps and gently squeeze and lightly toss from hand to hand to create balls. Set on a plate or plastic wrap.

Heat a nice slick of oil over medium heat in a large skillet, like cast iron. Use a slotted spoon to spoon half the meatballs into the pan, just browning them gently on all sides, searing for about 4 minutes. They will cook through in the oven. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining balls, adding extra oil to the pan, if needed. Place tray in oven for 6-8 minutes until just cooked through. You can take the temp (165) and/or cut into one to check.
Cool a few minutes and serve with sauce. 

Yield:16-18 balls depending on how you roll

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