My Take On Those Grape Jelly Party Meatballs

All of this holiday talk is making me hungry.

This week, I found myself with two pounds of ground turkey along with odds and ends from my last trip to the grocery store. My stomach hungrily rolled along, propelled by thoughts of those sweet, sticky meatballs one often finds at parties. The type of meatballs that involve grape jelly. And the type of meatballs I find myself wishing for when I go to holiday parties, but wouldn’t dare to make an entire batch for myself

To make the meatballs, I eyeballed ingredients and mixed and matched. I heard that ground turkey could become very dry when cooked, so I might have overcompensated by adding cooked vegetables, fresh breadcrumbs soaked in cream, and Parmesan cheese. Then, I baked them. Normally, I have pan-fried the meatballs until caramelized, but I found baking to be an easier method for a weeknight. They still developed some lovely, golden-brown crust.

My husband and I were both thrilled when the meatballs were moist and tasted savory with umami. I was especially thrilled they involved little muss or fuss after a full day of school and work. This left more time for How I Met Your Mother when I probably should have been blogging.

You can serve the meatballs with any sauce you’d like. For an especially simple sauce, try dabbing them in some whole grain mustard. I made a sweet and sour sauce by combining mustard with homemade raspberry and jalapeno jelly that Jake’s cousin made.

Almost like that guilty crock pot pleasure, but not quite.

Baked Turkey Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Jelly-Mustard Glaze

I ended up adding a lot of breadcrumbs to the meatball mix to soak up the extra liquid. This didn’t negatively affect the texture of the meatballs, but I would recommend starting with one egg. 

The measurements are very approximate since I made up the recipe on the fly. Before you roll the meatballs and bake them, cook a dab of the raw meat mixture in a pan so you can taste for seasoning. 

Ingredients:

Meatballs:
2 lbs ground turkey (mine was 85/15)
2 slices of bread, torn into small pieces
Milk or cream (enough to moisten the fresh bread)
Olive oil
Mushrooms, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated (approximate)
2 cloves garlic, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated (1-2 handfuls)
1-2 eggs
Parsley, a handful, chopped
Dry breadcrumbs (I used both panko and toasted)
Salt
Pepper

Sauce:
Hot and fruity jelly (I used raspberry-jalapeno)
Mustard
Soy Sauce
Worcestershire
Mustard
Hot sauce

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to about 375 degrees F.
  2. Soak the fresh bread crumbs in milk or cream until just moistened. Set aside.
  3. In a saute pan, sweat the mushroom and onion until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Place the ground turkey in a large bowl.
  5. Grate in the fresh ginger and garlic cloves.
  6. Add the Parmesan, fresh bread crumbs softened in milk or cream, egg, and parsley. Gradually add dried breadcrumbs until the meat mixture is firm enough to form into meatballs. Add the dried breadcrumbs to the meat mixture to soak up the excess moisture. Add the bread crumbs slowly since it will take a few minutes for them to absorb.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Test a small bit of the raw meatball mixture by cooking it in a pan to check for seasoning.
  9. Roll mixture into meatballs and place on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper.
  10. Bake until cooked through and golden brown on the outside. Flip during the cooking process for even browning.

To make the glaze:

  1. In a small saucepan, mix the jam and mustard. I used a lot of both yellow and whole grain mustard.
  2. Season with a couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce, a little soy sauce to balance the sweetness, and some hot sauce for acidity. Simmer until the flavors meld and the sauce is more like a glaze.

We served the meatballs with sauteed pea pods and mushrooms.

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