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Playing Turkey & Bacon Meatballs with Maple-Dijon Gravy


For the Meatballs
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup panko or homemade coarse breadcrumbs or whole wheat panko or whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Bell’s poultry seasoning, half a scant palmful
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup cloudy apple cider
  • A drizzle of olive or canola oil
  • 6 slices thick-cut, uncured good quality apple wood or other smoky bacon, finely diced
  • 1 Braeburn, Honeycrisp or Jonagold apple, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 to 3 small ribs celery from the heart with leafy tops, finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 round tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup turkey or chicken stock
  • 2 pounds ground turkey, dark and white meat mix
  • 2 egg yolks
For the Gravy
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 3 round tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard


Serves: 8 as party snack.


For the meatballs, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, season with celery salt, poultry seasoning and pepper, and toast to golden. Remove from heat and cool. Toss toasted breadcrumbs with parsley and moisten them with apple cider. Set aside.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil. Add bacon and cook to crisp. Remove and add apples, celery, onion, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté until tender in bacon drippings, 3-4 minutes; sprinkle with brown sugar, add vinegar and stock, let liquid evaporate. Remove from heat and cool completely.  
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a mixing bowl, season ground turkey with salt and pepper, and add breadcrumbs, cooled apple mixture and egg yolks, and mix to combine. Roll into 2-inch balls and arrange on parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden and a little crispy, 20-25 minutes.
For the gravy, melt butter in medium saucepot over medium heat. Add pepper, stir 30 seconds then whisk in flour and let the mixture come to a bubble. Whisk in stock and thicken; add Worcestershire and maple syrup. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, season with salt to taste. 
Serve meatballs with toothpicks and warm bowl of gravy for dipping.
Serve alongside your favorite paninis.