Thanksgiving Turkey Chili

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I worked a 12 hour shift Thanksgiving Day AND I had family coming into town Thanksgiving night.  I wanted to come up with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, but there was no way I could throw together the traditional turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pie, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes that I grew up having….all by 8 pm.  After quite a bit of thought, I decided to do kind of a fun, Paleo slow cooker twist on Thanksgiving dinner.

About a month ago, I posted a Chicken Chili recipe.  I thought perhaps turkey might be a good substitute for the chicken.  I roasted my very first turkey 2 days before T-Day.  The turkey actually turned out amazingly well.  The carving….well, it was more like butchering.  No matter.  Turkey is still delicious whether perfectly carved or in bit size ripped off hunks.

I followed the recipe fairly strictly…with a few adjustments.  I substituted turkey for chicken.  I don’t know exact weight, but it was a couple few pounds.  In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter.  Secondly, I saved the juices from the roasting pan.  Instead of making gravy with the juices, I used the turkey drippings in place of the chicken stock.  Third, I threw a handful of cranberries into the slow cooker for a little color, tartness, and holiday flare.

I let the chili cook for a solid 12 hours.  A bit long for my liking, but that’s ok.  It truly was the perfect meal for Thanksgiving Day after a 12 hour shift.  Everyone LOVED it. To keep with the Thanksgiving dinner theme, I served it with sweet potato chips, Maple Paleo Cornbread, and a delicious cranberry prosecco.  Grain-free, dairy-free Pumpkin Pie for dessert.

This is a perfect way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers.  A hearty chili on these cool autumn….almost winter…days.  Definitely a crowd pleaser.

I hope that you had a very merry Thanksgiving, full of blessings and delicious food.

Happy Eating!

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Turkey & Cranberry Meatballs

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Melissa, of The Clothes Make the Girl, posted this recipe not too long ago.  With Thanksgiving quickly…very quickly…approaching, I have been on the lookout for fun T-day dishes that could add a little health AND creativity to the meal. Turkey & cranberries have a delicious compatibility.  Heck yeah, I’m going to make this recipe. I purchased Melissa’s cookbook Well Fed quite awhile ago.  So many awesome creations.  I just knew this one would be just as tasty as the rest of her recipes.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (unsweetened), coarsely chopped (check labels to make sure the cranberries are truly unsweetened)
1/2 tablespoon rubbed sage
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix baking soda and cream of tartar in water. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix turkey, orange juice, garlic, cranberries, sage, orange zest, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.
4. Add the baking soda mixture to the bowl, and mix again. NOTE: For a smoother, more tender texture, use a food processor or a standing mixer – fitted with the paddle attachment – to blend the ingredients. For more a traditional texture, mix the meat by hand.
5. Mixture will be super gooey. Place meat in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes.
6. After 20-30, roll about 1 tablespoon of meat into a 1-inch ball. (Melissa likes to use a 1-tablespoon scoop to speed up the process.)
7. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake meatballs for 20-25 minutes, until browned and sizzling.
(This recipe yielded 16 meatballs approx golf ball size)

Melissa recommends serving with your favorite sides — or recreating a Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich by wrapping a meatball in a butter lettuce leaf with homemade mayo, salt, pepper, and a few fresh parsley leaves.

First of all, do not be intimidated by the ingredients or the amount of steps.  Most of the ingredients I actually already had in my cupboards at home.  The instructions are pretty easy and straight forward. Simple, really.

The house smelled fantastic while the meatballs were cooking. I could hardly wait to try them.  I dug right in once they came out of the oven.  I suppose one could put gravy on them or Paleo mayo, but really, they’re delicious on their own. The flavor is fairly complex.  There’s a lot for your taste buds to figure out.  I love the crispy turkey flavor combined with the citrus of the orange and the tartness of the cranberries.  I had to sample at least 4 or 5 to really get the flavor down….  (Note: The only thing that I left out was the sage. I’m fairly allergic to sage, turns out.  I haven’t had it in quite a while, so I’m not sure how much it would change the flavor.)

These meatballs are definitely a fun twist on the turkey & cranberry combo.  Perfect as a snack or a meal.

Happy Eating!

Recipe HERE.