Returning from a vacation means there is likely nothing in your refrigerator. Depending on the time your flight, ride, or boat arrives in town you may not even have the energy or patience to search the cupboard to see if you can throw something or other together.
When I got home to Austin after another trip to Los Angeles, I needed to “cleanse” again: I can only eat so much prosciutto and bufalo mozzarella in one weekend. So I raided, I mean raided, my freezer. I uncovered and defrosted ground turkey, found some cilantro in the crisper that was just about to turn, and I decided to make Vietnamese-inspired Turkey Meatballs.
I tried this with both chicken and turkey and they’re both great. I’ve worked with the recipe to be sure they don’t fall apart and still have plenty of flavor. There’s also no bread crumb “substitute” which is great AND still on a Paleo (the brown rice is not necessary) and most Elimination Diets too.
Chicken and Cilantro Meatballs
1/2 cup short-grain brown rice, cooked
1 pound ground turkey or chicken
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot chili sauce (optional)
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2-3 teaspoons lime juice
pinch of salt
For the cooking liquid:
2 Kaffir Lime leaves
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
water to fill up to 2 inches in your skillet
In a large bowl, place the brown rice and mash with the back of a fork. The rice doesn’t have to be completely mashed, but just a bit broken up. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and with a fork or your hands, blend all ingredients well. Stick in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
In a wide skillet, place the cooking liquid and bring to a simmer/low boil. You do not need a rip-roaring boil. While the liquid is heating, form the meatballs with your hands. Roll them between the palm of your hand and the fingers of your other hand until you have about a 2-inch in diameter circle. Place meatballs in the liquid and cover with a lid. The liquid should go just about half way to 3/4 of the way up the meatballs. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Lift lid, flip the meatballs over, re-cover, and simmer for another 2 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. These meatballs are great right away, but will also keep in tupperware for up to a few days.
Serve as they are, in soup, on vermicelli, or over greens and carrots.