Saturday, January 26, 2013

buffalo turkey balls

We love wings! I know I've been saying "we love" things in almost every post, but seriously, we love wings. They are so delicious, deep fried and saucy. But, as you know, we are trying to eat more healthy, and deep fried, skin-on wings aren't exactly the best choice if we're working towards that goal. But it's hard to resist the thought of spicy buffalo sauce and creamy ranch. So I opted for this, and they seemed to be a hit- Ed ate all of his, at least, and I managed to hide a few for me to eat for lunch today.
The essential make up of these turkey balls is the same as any meatball- celery and onion, bread crumbs, eggs and ground meat. Turkey meat is even less expensive than ground beef in our local grocery store, and less greasy, so we usually go with the poultry. Everything else is fairly easy to round up, so nothing too complicated here; low fat cream cheese, ranch dressing (as healthy as we want to be, I can't stand lite ranch), low fat blue cheese crumbles, butter and your favorite hot sauce (we love Frank's).
Start by preheating your oven to 350º. Then, finely mince a small onion (we use Vidailas, since Vidalia, Georgia is so nearby) and 2 ribs of celery. Then add 1 egg, a palm full of breadcrumbs, and mix until combined.
Next, add a palm full of low fat blue cheese crumbles and 2 ounces of softened low fat cream cheese. If you forgot to take the cream cheese out of the fridge ahead of time to soften (like I did), 15 seconds in the microwave will do the trick. Mix to combine, and then add your ground turkey. Mix, and then form the mixture into 1 inch balls and place onto a cooking tray.
Again, I use a Pampered Chef cooking stone that's been well seasoned, so I don't use cooking spray or aluminum foil. However, these puppies WILL stick to your pan, so either well grease your tray or grease your aluminum foil. These balls will not feel like a regular meat ball. Not only does the cream cheese add a little more moisture than a regular meatball will have, but ground turkey has a tendency to liquefy slightly when handled because of the higher moisture content. Seriously, they feel gross and your hands will be covered in mixture. Be sure you wash your hands in soap and hot water then pop your meatballs into the preheated oven for about 15 minutes- until the balls look slightly solidified and firm.
Meanwhile in a small saucepan, combine about 8 oz. of your hot sauce and half a stick of butter until melted. If you like your wings spicier, you can adjust the ration to be more hot sauce than butter, and vice versa. The 8 oz hot sauce to half stick of butter ratio will give you a mild flavor.
Next, using a basting brush (or spoon) baste the meatballs with the sauce. Or, if you're lazy like me, pour the hot sauce over the meatballs and continue cooking for 10 minutes more. Total cook time should be right around 25- 30 minutes. This will depend on the size of your meatballs more than anything.
They're not exactly pretty when they come out of the oven, but man, do they smell awesome. Since this meal consisted of a decent amount of cheese and butter, I chose to serve carrots and celery as a side. Besides, who eats wings without celery? Drizzle the turkey balls with ranch, and you've got yourself a craving quenching delight!
Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
1 lb ground turkey
2 ribs celery
1 small onion
1 egg
Palm full bread crumbs
2 oz. softened low fat cream cheese
Palm full low fat blue cheese crumbles
1/2 stick butter
8 oz. hot sauce (we use Frank's)
Ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 350º. Then, finely mince onion and celery and combine with egg, bread crumbs, blue cheese crumbles, softened cream cheese and ground turkey. Form into 1 inch balls and place on greased cooking tray. Cook for 15 minutes. While turkey balls are cooking, melt butter and hot sauce together in a small cooking pot. When balls are firm to the touch, baste (or pour) hot sauce mixture over them and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Serve with drizzle of ranch dressing.