Turkey Meatballs: Thanksgiving in One Bite

by Caroline Hatchett
Aki Kamozawa
November 2011

Talbot’s Turkey Tips:

  1. Turkey isn’t difficult to cook. Cooking turkey while drinking vast amounts of alcohol, surrounded by family, is difficult. Finish prepping and cooking the bird before you open the bottle and in-laws arrive.
  2. Turkeys have so many muscle parts going on. In most cases, you want to break a turkey down to give each piece the proper treatment. (Here's how Kamozawa and Talbot plan on breaking down the bird this Thanksgiving.)
  3. For cooking a whole bird, spatchcocking is really fabulous. Just brine the bird, remove its spine, and split it down the center to flatten. To cook it, lay it on a bed of vegetables that have been splashed with stock. This steams the bottom of the turkey and gives you crisp skin on top. It’s a combination of low-temperature braising and roasting. 
  4. Never use dill in turkey brine. I once ruined everyone’s Thanksgiving meal with dill.
» Click images to enlarge
Ras al hanout-spiced pumpkin pasta Turkey meatballs cooking in cranberry sauce Thanksgiving Meatballs, Cranberry Red Sauce, and Pumpkin Noodles


For Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa of Ideas in Food, the Thanksgiving meal is light on tradition and heavy on innovation. And their innovation lies in technique and composition—even Talbot and Kamozawa respect Thanksgiving favorites. This year the blogger-chef-couple team will work on utilizing the whole bird: every bit of meat, bone, and even tendon will go into creating a turkey smorgasbord, including roasted breasts, stuffed turkey neck, sous vide wings, velvety gravy, and turkey meatballs.

And while the form of the last item may spark mutiny from diners, Ideas in Food’s cheeky Thanksgiving meatballs are an exercise in maximizing traditional holiday flavors. To start the dish, Kamozawa and Talbot prepare a pressure cooked turkey stock with smoked and raw turkey wings. The pressure cooker extracts all the flavor and collagen from the meat and bones in a fraction of the time it takes to cook a traditional turkey stock—a mere 30 minutes. As the couple explained at their ICC demonstration this year, they try to add flavor at every stage of the cooking process, so the stock also gets an umami boost from kimchi and miso paste.

The finished liquid helps build a cranberry-based sauce made with fresh and dried berries, tomatoes, shiitakes, and a hit of fish sauce (one of Talbot’s favorite flavor weapons). Talbot and Kamozawa then cook the turkey meatballs—replete with sage, challah, potato flakes, bacon, and Crystal hot sauce—in the cranberry sauce and toss them at the last minute with ras al hanout-spiced pumpkin pasta. Think of it as one big fun forkful of turkey, gravy, potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

Related Photo Galleries