This is a recipe I got from my favorite slow cooker food blog, A Year of Slow Cooking. These are hands-down the best meatballs I have ever made, possibly ever had. I never would have thought making meatballs in the slow cooker would work, but it does!
Slow Cooker Apple Cheddar Turkey Meatballs
1 lb. extra-lean ground turkey
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
½ shallot or ¼ onion, finely minced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Make slightly smaller than golf ball sized meatballs and place into the slow cooker. They will fit in one layer in a large 6 quart cooker, but if your cooker is smaller, you can stagger-stack them and they won’t stick together.
Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours. While they cook, juice will collect on the bottom of the crock and the meatlballs will get covered with white slimy stuff. Don’t be alarmed—they will continue to cook and will brown.
Makes 24 meatballs.
It may sound like a weird mix of flavors, but you don't actually taste the apple. It just kind of disintegrates and provides moisture to the meatballs. And even though you can't see the cheese (it doesn't ooze out or anything), they have a distinctive cheddar flavor running through them. So good.
The recipe calls for extra-lean ground turkey. I'm not exactly sure what that means. My turkey was 93% lean. Between the middle and end of cooking, I noticed the meatballs were sitting in a lot of liquid. I got out the turkey baster and removed it. It didn't look like grease; I think most of it was liquid that came out of the apple and the shallot. They weren't the slightest bit greasy when I took them out. You will need to remove any liquid like that if you want the meatballs to brown properly.
Here's what I changed from the original recipe. It called for 1½ lbs. of ground turkey, but I have all of mine split up into 1 lb. packages. And I usually figure that 1 lb. of ground meat is sufficient for 4 servings. It called for 1 tsp of black pepper, but that seemed like way too much and I don't really like it anyway so I just left it out. It called for 1 tsp of onion powder, but I had some shallots that needed to be used up, so I threw one of those in there. I really liked it that way. It also called for dried cranberries, but I thought that would be a little too much going on. And I didn't think that Lena would like them (she picks them out of my cranberry muffins).
I put in the recipe to cook on high. You can cook them on low, but I would guess that they wouldn't brown as nicely on low. I really liked how they got brown around the edges.
I served these with stuffing and green beans.