These tasty, baked meatballs make the perfect weeknight dinner or can be served cocktail-size as an appetizer. My family goes crazy for them; I make them once a week! For a fun appetizer idea, make mini meatballs and once baked, thread them onto bamboo skewers and drizzle with the aioli (or just serve the aioli in a dipping bowl). Making the meat mixture, rolling them and popping them in the fridge to set, can (and should) be done ahead of time, making it a weeknight win! If serving as a main course, I like to make a fragrant side of rice with it, like basmati, and use the aioli as a dip for the meatballs. The mild flavor of the turkey paired with the zest and tang of the aioli makes for really flavorful combination. The aioli can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and used to slather on sandwiches, burgers or as a dip for fresh veggies. The possibilities are endless! I like to store it in a glass jar or container with a tight-fitting lid so it stays super fresh.
Now for a little info on the cooking method… I have been slowly trying to move away from using non-stick cookware. Overall, it’s just a healthier way to cook. I have two decent quality, “safer” non-sticks left (one is a non-stick ceramic Greenpan, the other is a Zwilling granite coated pan). Non-stick cookware has a relatively short life-span, so you end up saving money in the long run by investing in better quality pieces that don’t feature a non-stick cook surface. Cast iron can seem like a lot of maintenance (and it’s heavy), but I really like it for a few key reasons:
- The cast iron surface gives your protein a wonderful, crisp, brown char/sear.
- The more you use your cast iron and keep it oiled, it develops its own non-stick surface over time.
- Cast iron, if taken care of properly, lasts forever!
Here’s what I do to maintain my cast iron:
- Do not use soap! This will damage your seasoning/natural non-stick coating and you’ll have to start all over again. I use hot water, a scraper or brush (see pic below) and kosher salt. With a little elbow grease, it comes clean every time!
- Once it’s completely dry, I rub a bit of olive or avocado oil all over the surface and allow it to seep in. Then I store it in the cabinet. Done!
Cast Iron Turkey Meatballs
- 2 pounds ground turkey (preferably not turkey breast)
- 1/2 cup GF panko (I use Aleias original panko)
- 1/4 -1/2 cup of mashed potato flakes, like Idahoan, plus more as needed to firm up the turkey mixture
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (about 7 turns of the grinder)
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 1 tsp. dried oregano (or to taste)
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Step 1 Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix using clean hands. Don’t over-mix the meat!
- Step 2 Roll the meat mixture into desired size balls and lay on a parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet. Any size balls that you like is fine, just be sure to roll them all the same size so they cook evenly and at the same time.
- Step 3 Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
- Step 4 Preheat your oven to 375-400 degrees convection. If your convection runs super hot, then 375 degrees should be fine. Brush the bottom of a cast iron skillet with a thin layer of olive or avocado oil. Place the skillet in the oven to preheat while the oven is preheating.
- Step 5 Carefully remove the skillet when the oven is preheated and add the meatballs in a single layer, being careful not to overcrowd the skillet. Bake, flipping once halfway through, about 40 minutes, or until the meatballs are golden brown and cooked through.
To make the aioli:
About 3/4 cup good quality mayo (you can also use vegan mayo)
1 small lemon, zest and juice
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 2-inch piece of red onion
1 medium garlic clove
Lots of fresh dill
In the bowl of a mini food processor, pulse the onion and garlic until finely chopped. Add the mayo, lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground white pepper. Spoon into a bowl and mix in lots of freshly minced dill. Stir well and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours before serving.