As we head into the cooler months, my mind begins to dream about all of the yummy comfort foods. Whether its one of the many French classics I love to make such as Coq au Vin or Beef Bourguignon, a garlic herb roasted chicken or even a simmering pot of chili, fall is my favorite time of year to cook.
But for many years, there is a comfort food that has eluded me, and that is the meatball. I have eaten many delicious and some not so delicious ones. To me, the best meatballs are flavorful, moist and melt in your mouth. The not so good ones are tough, chewy and dry. But in all cases, meatballs can be very rich and a bit on the heavy side.
I embarked on a quest, and I had a few criteria. First I wanted this meatball to be easy and quick to prep. I also wanted it be a bit lighter than traditional meatballs, so I wanted to bake rather than fry it. Finally, I wanted the base recipe to be versatile enough so that with a few small tweaks, I could completely change the flavor profile.
After testing a smattering of the top rated recipes from the Internet and cooking celebrities, many of which were sadly disappointing, I found one that I really enjoyed. Once I tinkered with it to make it my own, I asked some friends to comparatively taste test it, and they too loved them. And when I told them that these meatballs were healthier than the others they tried, they were pleasantly surprised.
The secret you ask? Well, it's ground turkey. Now that might not seem very groundbreaking, and I was expecting to hate them, but the truth is, these meatballs hit all the right notes – flavorful, moist and tender, easy to make, and clean up a breeze. I give an important disclaimer to use the 93% lean turkey, NOT the 97-99% lean, or you could have some golf balls on your plate!
This recipe is fairly straightforward. I am sharing the one I use to make a more traditional Italian style meatball that I serve over TCB’s homemade pasta and a sauce of choice. With a few changes to the aromatics, herbs and spices, these meatballs could easily be infused with Asian, Greek, or Indian flavors as well.
1 pound ground turkey
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 slice of fresh bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces
1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup carrot, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
Preheat broiler and place rack on the second from the top rung of oven.
Place ground turkey and egg in a large bowl.
In the bowl of the food processor, add all of the other ingredients and pulse until finely minced, but not mushy.
Add contents of food processor to meat.
Mix together with a rubber spatula.
With an ice cream size scoop – scoop out 12 meatballs.
Place evenly spaced apart on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush oil on the tops of the meatballs.
Place tray under the broiler for 10 minutes until slightly golden brown, or until thermometer reads 165°.
The meatballs may give off a little cloudy liquid during cooking (from the egg white). Just remove the meatball from the liquid and add to your favorite pasta sauce – simmering for an additional 10-15 minutes.
Serve over your favorite pasta topped with freshly chopped parsley and/or basil and a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano.
If you would like to learn more about making your own pasta and sauces from scratch please check out our pasta workshop or old school Italian classes. Buon Appetito!
- Sunday, September 28 10am Lincoln Square
- Sunday, October 13 11am Lincoln Square
- Wednesday, October 23 6:30pm Lincoln Square
- Monday, October 28 6:30pm Merchandise Mart
Old School Italian
- Wednesday, October 2 7pm Lincoln Square
- Sunday, October 27 6pm Lincoln Square
- Tuesday, October 29 7pm Lincoln Square