Catalan Turkey Meatballs

Okay, I'll go ahead and admit it here. This recipe is not from page 215; instead, it is from page 115. But I have a lot of fish I need to make this year and I just cannot face the prospect of making Rosso's page 215 contribution--Cod with Garlic Sauce--when the only way I really, really like cod is battered, deep-fried, wrapped in newspaper, drenched in vinegar, and served alongside chips. 

My rules

I can break them.  

So, let's turn to page 115.

Julee Rosso's book, Great Good Food (now well out of print), was a staple of the 90s. While many of my own cooking habits have changed since those halcyon graduate school days when I secured this cookbook, one that I share with Rosso has not: cook with local, seasonal food, which this cookbook espoused even 25 years ago. Thus, despite its age and its now somewhat dated illustrations, the cookbook still rings true to me.

In 1977, Rosso, along with Sheila Lukins, began a little food store called The Silver Palate on Manhattan's Upper West Side. From there, a whole empire was born, including multiple cookbooks and a string of food supplies, some even sold at Saks; the store itself closed in 1993, but today, you can go to the Silver Palate website to get many a speciality food product. Nowadays, Rosso runs the Wickwood Inn in Saugatuck, Michigan, right along the shores of Lake Michigan. From the website photos alone, I think that a trip up that Eastern shore of my home Great Lake just may have to be in order some visit back to the midwest. Plus, Rosso makes you breakfast. Count me in.

This recipe is Rosso's take on tapas. I have waxed on about tapas here, including an explanation of the origin of the term by Irma Rombauer (of The Joy of Cooking fame). However, any foray into tapas means an obligatory visit to Berkeley's The Spanish Table. Originating in Seattle, which as you know is one of my favorite cities, The Spanish Table grew to include a Berkeley and a Mill Valley location (they once had a Santa Fe store, but that is no more as of last month). With a 15-foot wall of wine (including rare sherries, ports, and madeiras) and another wall of pots of grilled artichokes or tins of white anchovies or bags of bomba rice, the Berkeley store boasts Iberian flare complete with paella pans, sangria pitchers, cazuelas, tagines, and assorted plates, olive vessels, and mugs. One of the hardest parts is not to drop my dinner budget on kitchen utensils, but I did snap up these lovely Tunisian plates when I was there.

The smattering of sherry in the sauce and the sprinkling of toasted almonds elevate these solid entries of the tapas world beyond your everyday fare. However, the prep time and the actual cooking couldn't be easier. We had them with a simple salad, but spread out with an array of olives, tortilla espanol, some seared chorizo, and a pitcher of sangria, these meatballs would be welcome fare at any mid-winter tapas party.

Now, I am really glad I broke the rules.

Catalan Turkey Meatballs
Adapted from  Great Good Food

Serves 8

For meatballs
1 pound freshly ground lean turkey or chicken
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped fine
4 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbsp skim milk
2 tsp finely minced fresh thyme 
1 tsp freshly minced fresh rosemary
salt and pepper 
1 Tbsp olive oil

For sauce
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped or (1/2 a 15-ounce can of such)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup slivered and toasted almonds
Freshly chopped parsley

1.  In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients except the olive oil, and blend completely.  Shape into meatballs 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

2.  In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides and set aside.

3.  In the oil remaining in the skillet, saute the garlic and onion until slightly soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, and sherry. Bring to a boil, scraping up the bits from the bottom. Return the meatballs to the pan and cover. Simmer the meatball for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, add the almonds and sprinkle with parsley.


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