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Turkey Meatballs, Browning, Baking, and other techniques! HELP!

  • janie Mar 20, 2011 12:02 PM
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Read through so many posts, and other online sources, and I'm amazed at the complete lack of consistent cooking times for turkey meatballs...some people are baking them at 350 for 20 minutes, others at an hour, some at 400 for 15 minutes---

I've only made turkey meatballs 2 ways, in a red sauce, where I brown the turkey balls first with olive oil on stove in cast iron pan, and then drop them into sauce and simmer them for 40 minutes. They come out perfect. I also generally use breadcrumbs, reggiano cheese, and fage yogurt. However, I'm on south beach diet phase 1 and no bread, and I'm out of reggiano cheese, so I'm just going to use yogurt and some fresh herbs---and an egg--and some minced sweet onion.

However, I would really like to cook them surrounded by baby bella mushrooms. So, I'm now at a loss as to how I should proceed.

Should I brown them and then put them on a baking sheet so they can finish cooking in the oven, and then roast my mushrooms in the oven in a separate pan and then combine them when done?

Or is it possible to just bake the turkey balls without being browned all at once with the mushrooms on at least 400' so I get the mushrooms to be more roasted than watery or steamed?

Or should I still brown the turkey balls and then let them finish off at high heat long enough for the mushrooms to roast with them..or perhaps start the mushrooms first and then add them over?

The mushrooms usually take about 30 minutes at 400 to roast.....Since I'm at a loss for the correct cooking time for the meatballs, I'm not sure which technique to use.

Olive oil is fine for me to eat, so sauteeing is not an issue, however, I don't want any kind of sauce on the meatballs...and the fage yogurt inside, has always kept them nice and moist inside, however, this was when I was cooking them either in a tomato sauce or a soup broth when adding them to soup.

I could add vegetable broth if need be. I'm allowed that and I've got some in the house.

Would really appreciate some expert help. Also, the turkey I'm using is all white breast meat ground.

Thank you!!!!!

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  1. I think the lack of consistant cook-times is due to the lack of their being no standard "size" of meatballs. (Oh ANSI and ISO, where are you when we need you for standardization? LOLOLOL)
    Large meatballs for main course, medium for pasta and small as appetizers?

    So, the only real goal then is to cook them to an internal temp of 165 degrees. That's it.

    Brown first then drop into sauce. Brown first then drop into poaching liquid. Drop raw into poaching liquid. Bake fully in oven on cookie sheet or in muffin tins. As long as the final meat temp reaches at least 165, you're golden. For baking I'd do 375 to 425 to promote browing but keep a close eye on them.

    While I love ground turkey, it's finished texture is quite different from beef or pork, and the fact that a lot of ground turkey is sold with dark meat and skin included, making it a not so healthy alternative to beef at times (while being touted as one), keeps the number of core users small.

    I realize you are only using white meat, but the 165 rule still applies.
    Insta read probe thermometer and jot down your process and times. Do it once and document it you'll never need to question your time and temp again nor use a thermometer.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jjjrfoodie

      so you're saying that browning and finishing in the oven is not a good move. only brown if you're going to finish off in a liguid? What about the mushrooms cooking with them? Should I roast them separately and then combine them? thanks...

      1. re: janie

        I was really just commenting on a process and with regards to no "specific" recipe.

        Browning meatballs adds flavor as a result of the browning and cooking process. If dropping them into a soup or sauce, for some browning or pre-cooking too time consuming. For others, not.

        No matter what's in yur meatballs, they need to get to 165 one way or the other. If doing with mushrooms, then you need to determine a meatballs size and cooking method that gets everything done at the same time or else if overcooked , your mushrooms will be tough or your meatballs will dry out.

        For cooktop only, ur meatballs will need to be small so they cook thru by the mushrooms are tender. If doing a combo of oven and cooktop, you can use bigger meatballs and brown them on the stove, then toss in mushrooms and throw in oven but you have to make sure they finish at the same time. Doing a Oven only cook will get you less browning, but gets you back to making the meatballs a size where everything is all done at the same time. Adding a small bit of liquid to the pan gets you into braising territory but also add much needed moisture if cooking long

        So....if me, I'd brown meatballs on cooktop, toss in oven til done. In separate pan brown mushrooms in lipid of choice and season. Pull meatballs from oven at 160 and toss in pan with mushrooms and cook both together until done at 165.

        Again, this is for no other ingredients. If allowed to perfect the brown on stove then everything in the oven to finish, then that would be the easiest , most efficient and best, but has higher possible failure rate unless a skilled cook due to everything needing to finish at the same time via a blind cooking process.

        My 2 cents.

        1. re: jjjrfoodie

          thanks...after thinking about it--I think this make the most sense--I will brown them lightly so when they finish off at 400 they won't get too burned---I can also surround them with the mushrooms--I'm making a lot of mushrooms--so that can protect them--I'll cook them on the middle rack instead of lower down--and I'll see how long it takes--will use the thermometer and check them.........will post my results..thank you so much for your great suggestions.

          1. re: janie

            Just finished dinner, an absolute success---browned them and then put them into large le creuset baking dish --balls in the center surrounded by fairly small chopped baby bella mushrooms that were tossed in garlic oil--400 oven for 40 minutes, balls measured 165 and mushrooms were perfect and gave off wonderful liquid which created a lovely sauce--put foil over it and kept it in oven for 10 more minutes while rice was finishing up---------and they were just perfect-----------great for south beach phase 1--no bread crumbs used--
            white only turkey breast, egg, fage 0% yogurt, dodoni feta cheese, oregano, dill weed, freshly finely chopped basil and parsley, salt, pepper, fresh garlic, ---
            Need to be careful when browning in olive oll, so they don't get damaged, but it worked out well--superb flavor........and juicy inside

            Served it with basmati rice for family (not me) and hearts of palm, orange pepper, sweet onion, morrocan olive marinade , cucumber and lots of fresh herbs salad