Meatballs are one of those things that everyone seems to have their own way of making. Just like it is with meatloaf, meatballs can have just about anything in them and can be all types of meat combinations depending on your preferences. I have tried a bunch of different recipes in the past, including recipes from Giada di Laurentiis, who this particular recipe is from. Not that long ago an episode of her show features several meatball recipes, including the basic one for turkey meatballs that you start out with and then other recipes you can use the same meatballs for. I decided to start out the week with the basic class turkey meatball recipe and then build out from there.
Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs
For the Meatballs:
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon ketchup, optional
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey meat (dark meat if you can get it)
1 pound Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 onion, finely chopped 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to season
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons finely ground fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, basil, parsley, milk, ketchup if using, tomato paste, salt, pepper, eggs, garlic and onions. Using a wooden spoon, stir the ingredients until they are blended. Add the ground turkey and the turkey sausage meat. Using your fingers, gently mix all the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.
Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop or a small ice cream scoop, form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (22 to 24 meatballs). Place the meatballs on a heavy nonstick baking sheet, spacing them apart. Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
For the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet with high sides or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables until they softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the basil, the fennel, oregano and crushed tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook the sauce over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of basil. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if desired.
Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer until the meatballs are heated through, about 10 minutes. Thin the sauce with chicken stock, 1/4 cup at a time, if needed.
Serve with grated Parmesan alongside.
I have to say that of all the meatball recipes I have tried recently, I think this is the best one and since it uses only turkey meat, it might be the healthiest alternative of the ones I have made. The texture of the meatball is perfect and the flavor you get from the mix of the turkey meat and sausage along with the spices is just perfect. Throw it all in a simple sauce and you have a great meal. I actually doubled the recipe and made a lot of meatballs with this recipe to use for the other meatball recipes Giada tried on that episode, so I’ll be posting meatball options all week with what we had leftover. Of course, you can always just freeze some and use them when you want them. I left about half out of the sauce to use for some of the other recipes.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!