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Rosemary-Roasted, Butternut-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs


Rosemary-Roasted, Butternut-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs

’Tis the season to be busy, if you are a yacht chef.

Boat shows, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all mean lots of mouths to feed. From holiday dinners to cocktail parties, celebrations to family traditions, this is the time of year that food is the star of the show.

Of course, for us chefs, it means it’s time to hustle.

Well, Christmas came early this year because this little number is perfect for the holidays. It can be served at cocktail parties, as hors d’oeuvres or just to keep a jolly guest sated after one too many eggnogs.

Made ahead of time and stored in your freezer, consider this recipe a stocking stuffer as it will really help you out in a pinch. Enjoy. Makes 12 large or 20 small meatballs.



1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 medium butternut squash (cut into half-inch cubes)

3 sprigs rosemary, chopped fine

1 Tbsp chili flakes

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp smoked sea salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1 stick butter, salted

4 cloves garlic

1/2 red onion, diced and sautéed in 1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp sweet chili

1 pound ground turkey (10% fat, preferably)

1 tsp dried thyme

Salt & pepper to taste

2 sprigs sage, whole

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup dijon mustard

Extra olive oil for frying


In a bowl, place the dried cranberries and the white wine and let sit for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, toss together the butternut, rosemary, chili flakes, olive oil, smoked sea salt and black pepper. Place on an oven tray and roast for 20 minutes, or until the squash has browned and is soft to the touch.

Remove from oven and let cool.

In a heavy bottomed sauté pan at medium-high temperature, melt 1/4 stick of butter and sauté the garlic and onions for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste then add the sweet chili and cook for 2 minutes more.

Remove pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

In a mixing bowl, add the ground turkey, dried thyme, and salt and pepper (to taste), and mix thoroughly.

Roll the turkey mixture up into 2-inch balls and place on a greased oven tray.

Mix together the squash and onion mixtures with a wooden spoon, squashing the butternut as you mix.

Now to assemble: Scoop up a tablespoon of the squash and shape into a ball. Set aside. Flatten a turkey ball so it resembles a thin burger patty.

Place the squash ball in the middle of the turkey patty and cover with the turkey mixture. Smooth it out into a ball and set on the greased tray. Repeat.

In a heavy bottomed pan, place the remaining butter and sage on medium heat and slowly brown the butter (slowly cooking the fat in the butter will cause it to turn brown and take on a sweet, nutty flavor).

Once brown, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and increase heat to medium-high.

In a separate bowl, add the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix, then coat each ball before placing it in the sauté pan.

Sauté the turkey balls until they take on a golden color and start to crisp up. (If making for future use, freeze them at this stage.)

Reduce oven temp to 350 degrees F. Place sautéed turkey balls onto the greased oven tray and bake them for 15 minutes.

Reserve leftover butter-sage mixture in the pan. If there is none left, add a 1/4 stick of butter and repeating the process again, slowly cook the butter at a medium heat with sage until the desired results are achieved.

Whilst the turkey balls are in the oven, place the white wine macerated cranberries into a food processor, add the mustard and pulse until the cranberries have broken up mostly.

Remove the Turkey balls from the oven and set immediately onto the serving plate.

Drizzle with brown butter and a side of cranberry mustard, garnish and serve.

Mark Godbeer, a culinary-trained chef from South Africa, has been professionally cooking for more than 11 years, 9 of which have been on yachts ( Comments on this recipe are welcome at

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