BBQ Turkey Meatballs

When Whole Foods came to Santa Cruz, we protested and threw a fit, in fear that our locally owned grocery stores (two in the vicinity of Whole Foods) would be overshadowed by “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store.”  That’s just the normal reaction around here when a chain store comes to town. I (unfortunately) remember as a young child seeing topless protesters in front of the Gap downtown (lovely), and when Border’s moved in, some angry mob decided it was a good idea to throw acid on the windows. Come on, people. I love Santa Cruz because you really have to look hard to find a chain store, and I love to support the local places when given a choice.  But when it comes down to it, of all the chains to come to that building, Whole Foods is better than a Walmart, right? And I don’t think it was worth all the fuss.

I still consider myself a devout shopper at Shopper’s Corner, New Leaf, and Staff of Life, but once in a while, I stop into Whole Foods, and I don’t let myself feel guilty about it. When Levi was brand new, and cooking was not on our radar, we went there once to check out the prepared food section. It was quite impressive. One of the items we picked (among the overwhelming number of choices, from grilled salmon with peach salsa, to fried chicken) was BBQ Turkey Meatballs. I remember them fondly because I was so hungry when we bought them and they were exactly what I wanted them to be — flavorful, juicy meatballs covered in a sweet & tangy BBQ sauce. I thought our version was pretty darn close.

BBQ Turkey Meatballs

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
(I made my own by throwing the 2 heels of my sliced sourdough loaf into the food processor)
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBS. of your favorite BBQ sauce (we love Stubb’s) + more for simmering
olive oil

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Mix together with your hands until everything is incorporated. Form into six 2-inch balls, return to the bowl, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to start dinner.
  • Drizzle some olive oil into a large skillet, just enough to coat the bottom, and turn heat to medium. When hot, add the meatballs. Let cook for a minute, then use tongs to (carefully) rotate the meatballs until they’re nicely browned all over. This will take about 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat for a few minutes to let the pan cool down before adding the sauce.
  • Pour some BBQ sauce into the skillet and use the tongs to coat the meatballs in the sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through, uncovering once or twice to spoon some sauce over the meatballs.
  • Serve with rice pilaf and roasted broccoli (or your favorite, seasonal vegetable).

5 thoughts on “BBQ Turkey Meatballs

  1. Around here the chain grocery store with the best pre-prepared meals is Fresh Market. In fact, I don’t know if there are very many home-town completely local groceries anymore unless you could little gas stations in the country that happen to also have food!

  2. Love this recipe, love your commitment to local, and love your openness to chains when they try to get it right. And, um, also love that you love our sauce. Feel the love? Thanks for the shout out.

    We’ll tweet and Facebook post this recipe to share the goodness with fans and friends.

  3. For some reason when I eat these little turkey meatballs, I always assume there is some really sophisticated trick to keeping them so moist (whenever I cook ground turkey, it becomes dry as bone). It’s hopeful that your recipe seems so simple. One thing: The Whole Foods version always have little pieces of ground carrots and other veggies. A) Do you have any guess what other veggies go into it, and B) how would you incorporate them? Maybe throw them in the food processor along with the bread crumbs? Would you cook them first or put them in raw?

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