Growing up, red meat was never a staple in our household. I am told this was for health reasons. So basically, we always had the turkey or chicken version of all meals. This meant turkey/chicken meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, chili, tacos, etc. (I could keep going on and on, but I will stop for your sake). Meeting Will, and going over to his house for dinner when we first stated dating (quite a long time ago), opened my eyes to the world of red meat. They had real “meat”loaf, burgers, and they even had steak! Wow, my eyes were opened to a whole new world.
Today I love red meat, but there are many meals for which I will forever be partial to the turkey/chicken version. Luckily enough for me, this is technically the healthier version- but really I am partial to the taste. Maybe I am just a creature of habit, but I am obsessed with turkey meatballs. Weird, I know. But take my word, they are delicious little balls of tasty goodness.
So, yesterday I conferred with my associate (if you don’t already know, this is my fiance Will), and we decided to make Giada de Laurentiis’s “Mini Turkey Meatballs.” I was so excited! First and foremost, she is one of my idols in the food world. Secondly, Will thinks she is absolutely gorgeous, so is obviously always willing to make one of her recipes. Winning all around.
Here is the recipe as it appears on the Food Network Website.
1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3 Tbsp ketchup
1/4 cup fresh Italian Parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb ground dark turkey meat
3 Tbsp olive oil
26 ounces tomato/marinara sauce (aka red pasta sauce)
First, add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, parsley, salt, and pepper to a bowl. Mix well. Add the ground turkey, and mix some more. Now, form the mixture into mini meatballs. Put these on a plate.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, and saute for about 5 minutes, until browned on all sides. Turn off heat, remove meatballs from pan, and drain any extra oil. Put the meatballs back into the pan with your marinara sauce of choice. Simmer the meatballs and sauce on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
As you may have noticed, I never follow directions exactly, nor do I ever have all of the ingredients. So the night before, Will and I decided to defrost some ground turkey, but we happened to pull the extra lean turkey. Welp, I decided to roll with it. I knew they wouldn’t bind as well, nor would they be quite as juicy, but it would all be delicious in the end. We also always cook only a 1/2 lb of meat, unless we really want leftovers. Therefore, we cut the recipe in half. We did not have fresh parsley, only dried, so we used that. We used solely Parmesan (because we did not have any Pecorino Romano). Oh, and before I forget, a little trick I learned from my Mom- always keep the ends of your bread and freeze them. When you need breadcrumbs just take the bread out, and grate it into breadcrumbs (Voila!). Lastly, we used the rest of that marinara sauce we used for our Pita Pizzas (like I said, I never waste).
I warn you guys, I will always tell you my mistakes in the kitchen. Well, what exactly will I change for next time? First thing, I heated the olive oil too long in the frying pan before adding the meatballs. Will is a bit of a perfectionist, and took longer than expected to form the little balls. It is okay though, they were not burnt by any means, just a little darker brown than I would have preferred. Next, I would definitely use the dark ground turkey, or at least 50/50 dark and lean. Lastly, I would make the whole batch to experience both cheeses! I may even be sure to have fresh parsley on hand.
These meatballs were delicious! I highly recommend them. We served these yummy little nuggets of goodness over Quinoa Rotini (yes, the other half of the box from the other night) with a little extra sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top. This recipe was super easy- go make them!