Early on in the reincarnation of my relationship with Brian ... wait ... what do you mean you are confused by what I mean by reincarnation? A brief history of my relationship with Brian looks like this: dated over twenty years ago in college, lost touch for nine years until Brian stalked me on the internet, hooked up right before I moved to Italy for the better part of 2005, moved in together in 2006, married in 2008. And there you have it.
Back to my story about creating a ritual around meatballs early on in the reincarnation of our relationship. When Brian and I reunited after many years, it was a long distance relationship. I would make him meatballs to freeze and have when we were apart. Once we moved in together, I would make and freeze meatballs for Brian to enjoy when I was away, say because I went home to Colorado or went to visit friends.
So you see, these are really love balls or balls of love, which I will not be calling them because the internet would have a field day with that title.
The thing about meatballs is that they need a binder, and the most common one is bread. That was all well and good in the meatball history of Brian and Molly until April 2013 when it became clear that bread was killing me. I couldn't just stop making meatballs because one of the important rituals in our relationship depends on them. What was I to do?
Gaining inspiration from America's Test Kitchen, which advocates using potato flakes as a binder to make recipes gluten free, and drawing upon some recipes I truly enjoy like this one, I have created our favorite gluten free meatball.
Yes, there is bacon in it and cheese, which is why they do not suck, a name Brian created. I never claimed these would please orthorexics. I did not call them healthy meatballs. They represent another facet of the way I eat, which is without deprivation or restriction and in moderation. What they do represent is a freedom for people like me who cannot eat gluten for medical reasons. That freedom is the ability to make a damn delicious meatball without buying a pre-made, factory processed meatball. Enjoy!
Turkey Bacon Meatballs (Balls of Love!)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup potato flakes (I prefer Bob's Red Mill)
1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
5-10 grinds of fresh black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
2 slices bacon, diced
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Stir together all ingredients except for the turkey and the bacon until thoroughly combined. Add turkey and bacon. Using your hands, get in there and gently knead until uniformly combined.
Using your hands, roll into roughly 1.5 inch meatballs. You will have 16-20 meatballs. Place them on the sheet pan leaving space between them as you would for cookie dough. An optional step is to brush the meatballs with a little olive oil to aid browning.
Place them in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are lightly browned and cooked through. If you have a meat thermometer, the desired temperature is 160-165 F.
Serving ideas: With spaghetti and tomato sauce. My favorite gluten free brand of spaghetti is Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti which has two ingredients, brown rice and water. You can serve them as cocktail snacks by sticking a toothpick in each one and placing them on a platter. They are delightful in a meatball sandwich.
To freeze: Roll each meatball and place on a plate. Do not cook. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour . Place in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to two months. The benefit of freezing them is that you can defrost only as many as you need.
Nutritional awesomeness: Despite the bacon and the cheese, this recipe does have some nutritional merit. Let's talk parsley! Parsley packs a ton of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and iron into its little leaves. Parsley also is loaded with anti-oxidants and disease fighting materials. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to help lower bad cholesterol. It contains polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. Studies in Europe have concluded that olive oil consumption helps lower blood pressure. One Greek study with 36,000 participants concluded that there is an inverse relationship between eating olive oil and rates of cancer. Ground turkey is an excellent source of protein. If it is pasture-raised, it also will contain a good ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Ground turkey is a good source of niacin and vitamin B6. You can read about the health benefits of vitamin B6 here.