Spicy Turkey Lollipops — The Weekender

By: Marisa McClellan
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Every home cook has her backup, never-fail dinnertime ingredient. When in doubt, my mom sautés chicken tenders in olive oil with a bit of garlic and serves them on top of salad. My younger sister relies on sweet potatoes and cans of black beans to save the day when kitchen inspiration is scarce. Me? I’m good as long as there’s a pound of ground turkey in the freezer.

When I want something super-easy, I make turkey burgers with chopped onion and frozen peas stirred in (who doesn’t like a burger that also contains a serving of veggies?). If I have a little more time to play with, I mince up a carrot and a bit of onion in the food processor, stir it into the turkey with an egg and some smashed stale crackers (something we always seem to have on hand) and bake it in a loaf pan. Nights when I feel like I need some meditative kitchen time, I make turkey meatballs and cook them up in a batch of vegetable-laden broth.

All those applications are solid weeknight cooking. Sometimes, however, I’d like to be able to dress up my ground turkey and make it a little more presentable for guests and far-flung family members who find their way to my table on occasion. Just as I was pondering inventing my own company-worthy ground turkey dish, I spotted Melissa d’Arabian’s Spicy Turkey Lollipops.

Her recipe is essentially a healthier, highly spiced riff on the classic Swedish Meatball. Served as part of a spread of finger food, it was a winner with my friends and has been duly printed and filed away for future Weekender use. As an avid canner, I also loved that Melissa used jam in the meatball glaze. This recipe calls for raspberry, but you could sub in any other sweet or tart preserve to very good effect.

Before you start rolling your meatballs, here are a few things you should know:

- The glaze packs a fairly intense punch of heat. If you want to serve these meatballs to kids (or in my case, a husband) who can’t handle much in the way of spice, omit the cayenne.

- If you want to have more glaze for dipping, I recommend doubling the recipe. But don’t serve any glaze that has been exposed to partially cooked turkey. No need to give your guests food poisoning.

- To make your skewers stay securely in the meatballs, soak them in water before you start making the meatballs. Then halfway through cooking when you apply the initial layer of glaze, place the soaked sticks into the meatballs. The turkey will bake around the skewers and the soaking will keep them from burning.

Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Canning in Small Batches Year Round,  is now available.

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