Turkey Meatballs Two Ways

Some milder, some more seasoned, everyone happy.

meatball, turkey
Serving Size: 8 to 10

Turkey Meatballs Two Ways / Lucy Schaeffer / Food & Wine

I originally created this recipe for Food & Wine magazine several years back, right when The Mom 100 Cookbook was first hitting the shelves.  They had commissioned a feature on the whole concept of the Fork-in-the-Road recipe, a recipe designed to please everyone at the same by getting modified along the way (or even at the table).  The cook doesn’t feel like a short-order cook, but everyone at the table is happy, getting a version they love.

I created a few brand new Fork-in-the-Road recipes for the magazine, and this is the meatball recipe I created for the piece.  I actually still get an occasional email mentioning that these are a family’s favorite meatball recipe.  Which is awfully nice. I even made 200 of them recently for my 8th grade home ec’s teacher’s party (what, you don’t hang out with your 8th grade home ec teacher?).

Open a jar of sauce if you’re feeling rushy.  There are some pretty spectacular jarred sauces around these days, in the supermarkets and also at farmers’ markets.  Actually it’s a little amazing at how many different sauces there are out there, and how homemade some of them taste.

If you’re up for making the sauce, try these with my fresh tomato sauce recipe.

Meatballs are a never ending source of happiness for my people, and I’ve got a few meatball recipes in the books.  Not to mention this one right here on the blog.

Meatballs also freeze really well, and there is a particular kind of security in knowing that a package of frozen meatballs lays waiting in the freezer.  These meatballs can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight.  Frozen meatballs and a jar of sauce have saved my cannoli many a time on a late cold night.

Turkey Meatballs Two Ways

Print

  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (preferably 93/7%, not 100% lean)
  • 1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 2 24-ounce jars tomato sauce (or 6 cups homemade sauce)
  • 2 pounds dried pasta, such as rigatoni or mezzi rigatoni

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk. Stir in the panko, garlic, parsley, oregano, basil, 1 cup of the Parmesan, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the ground turkey and gently mix (hand are great for this) to combine.

2. For milder meatballs: Form two-thirds of the meat mixture into thirty-two 1 1/2-inch meatballs and transfer to one of the baking sheets. For more seasoned meatballs: blend the sausage and red pepper into the remaining meat mixture and form into thirty-two 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Transfer to the second baking sheet.

3. Brush the meatballs with 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 40 minutes, shifting the pans halfway through baking, until the meatballs are cooked through.

4. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the remaining 5 cups of tomato sauce and cook until heated through, tossing well. Spoon the pasta into 2 large serving bowls; add the mild meatballs to one and the spicy meatballs to the other. Serve, passing additional cheese at the table.

Originally published in Food & Wine magazine.

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