In Which We Remake Spaghetti & Meatballs

This recipe suffers from a lack of photography, since I was remiss about taking photos in the prep stages and a late night at work left the Boy to do all the cooking for this mid-week meal. Hence, I’ll keep this short and sweet – this was a week of Smitten Kitchen.

First, her tomato soup, then here, we took her Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze and turned them into a sort of Asian spaghetti and meatball dish.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Overall, the dish was good, not great – the sauce was awesome, and made a great pasta topper, but the meatballs were a little dry and didn’t really take the sauce. This might have been a result of overcooking, or the fact that we made, formed, and froze them in advance (a necessary step in the lives of two busy workers), but I just wish they were a little moister.

Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
Adapted from Canal House Cooking, vol. 3

As noted, the meatballs were a little dry, but we loved the Asian sauce (I think you could really find a lot of uses for it – stir fry, veggies, etc.). The meatballs are very cute, and would make great appetizers on toothpicks – I also had the leftovers over rice, which again was a great way to highlight the sauce. The turkey base makes these a little leaner and more healthy, which is a nice bonus.

Yield: 24-30 Meatballs

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce, preferably Japanese or reduced sodium
1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine), or 1/2 cup sake with 1/4 cup sugar
1/8-1/4 cup peeled, chopped ginger (adjust to your preference)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 whole black peppercorns

1 pound ground turkey
4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped
Half bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup) (the cilantro-averse can use flat-leaf parsley)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sesame oil, toasted if you can find it
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

To Serve
Whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked

Make sauce: Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar melts completely. Reduce heat to a medium-low and add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander and peppercorns. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes, though this took me a bit longer to reduce it until it was syrupy enough that I thought it would coat, and not just dribble off the meatballs. You can keep it on a back burner, stirring it frequently, while browning the meatballs in the next step. Once it has reduced to your satisfaction, strain through a sieve.

Make meatballs: Mix turkey, scallions, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce and several grindings of black pepper in a bowl. I like mixing meatballs with a fork; it seems to work the ingredients into each other well. Roll tablespoon-sized knobs of the mixture into balls. The mixture is pretty soft; I find it easiest to roll — eh, more like toss the meatballs from palm to palm until they’re roundish — meatballs with damp hands.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, generously cover bottom of pan with vegetable oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, place meatballs in pan and cook, turning, until browned all over and cooked inside, about 8 minutes per batch.

If serving as appetizers, arrange on a platter (a heated one will keep them warm longer), spoon a little sauce over each meatball, and serve with toothpicks. Alternatively, you can serve the glaze on the side, to dip the meatballs.

For pasta dish, place meatballs atop pasta and pour sauce over. Serve.

Do ahead: The sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated until needed. If needed, you can rewarm or keep the meatballs warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve. You can also freeze the uncooked, formed meatballs and cook day-of.