Meatballs, meatballs, meatballs! I know, not the most exciting or creative recipe out there, but it’s a classic! These are not your typical heavy, sit in your stomach meatballs. They’re a lighter and simpler meatball, as they are just made with ground turkey. Yep, no pork sausage is needed for these puppies. Turkey is rich in vitamin B and zinc, and is a full flavored and lower-fat alternative to ground beef. My brother Brandt, who doesn’t like meatballs, LOVED these. I served these up for dinner and he was actually just going to eat the spaghetti, but he wanted to be nice so he said I could throw a couple of meatballs in his dish. He politely tried one and then asked for 3 more. He LOVED these and was quite surprised that he did. He wanted me to be sure to tell all of you that he loved these, because he is not typically a fan of meatballs. Of course, my kids loved these, I mean they’re meatballs right?
I paired them with my new favorite basic tomato sauce and linguine, and it was a winner dinner. These meatballs do not fall into the quick and easy weeknight category, unless of course you make them up over the weekend and just re-heat them during the week. I like to make these on a day where I know I have some time (which is usually a Sunday). I typically make the sauce up ahead of time (remember my basic tomato sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks) just to save time when it comes to making the meatballs, but I have made both on the same day. The meatballs themselves are pretty easy to throw together. The only step that takes a bit of time is browning the meatballs, but other than that, it’s pretty simple and pretty calming rolling out meatball after meatball. I usually throw on some tunes and get into a rhythm.
These meatballs make great leftovers as well. Just take a hotdog bun or soft roll, open it up and layer a slice or two of provolone cheese on each side, pop it under the broiler so that the cheese and bun brown up, and then insert the warmed meatballs and sauce. To make it even tastier and cheesier, top if off with a bit of parmesan cheese. My kids LOVED these and it made leftovers not taste like leftovers. We honestly felt like we had two totally different dinners, spaghetti and meatballs one night and meatball subs the next! We paired both dinners with my lacinato kale salad.
recipe from The Supper Club
Make approximately 27-28 1-inch meatballs
- 6 cups basic tomato sauce (see recipe here) or you can use your favorite homemade or store bought brand
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 2 pounds ground turkey, preferably dark meat
- 2 large eggs, beaten – Make sure to use large not extra large eggs here
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
- Optional – 1 pound spaghetti or linguine if you’re going to make traditional spaghetti and meatballs
In a large pot, gently heat the 6 cups tomato sauce over low heat (only do this step if you’re not making the sauce fresh). Remove from the sauce from the heat and cover to keep warm. You want to warm up the sauce so you’re not throwing hot meatballs into a cold sauce, as you’re going to add the meatballs to this sauce to finish their cooking. I used my basic tomato sauce, as it makes 6 cups and really pairs perfectly with the meatballs. As I said above, I usually make the sauce a day or so ahead so I’m not making 2 recipes at once.
Pour the 1 cup panko breadcrumbs into a large bowl. Add the 1/3 cup of milk and let them soak until the breadcrumbs have absorbed the milk completely, about 5 minutes. Add in the 2 pounds of turkey, 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup of parmesan, 2 tablespoons oregano, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with some parchment paper. Roll the turkey mixture into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls between your palms. As the balls are formed, put them on the baking sheet. Once all of the meatballs are formed, put them in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set.
Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat (I used my 12-inch cast iron skillet). Depending on the size of your pan, add about 7-10 meatballs, making sure not to crowd them too much.
Cook them turning as needed with a spatula or prongs until nicely browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. It may take longer or shorter depending on how hot your pan is. Here’s a tip for browning all sides evenly. Once I get some initial browning on the meatballs, I push them over to the sides of the cast-iron pan so that two sides of the meatball can get browned at the same time (see photo below). It also helps to keep them from rolling around all over the place. I keep rolling them around until they get evenly browned on all sides. We like our meatballs to have a bit of a brown crust.
See how nice and brown they are. They do not need to be cooked through as they will finish cooking off in the sauce. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to the pot of tomato sauce. Note: Your tomato sauce is warm here, but not on direct heat until all of the meatballs have been added to it, as you want the all meatballs to cook together in the sauce. Repeat the process with the remaining meatballs until all of your meatballs have been browned. This is the part that takes some time and patience, but it helps if you have some nice music playing in the background to get your groove on to.
Once all the meatballs have been browned and added to the sauce, place the tomato sauce over low heat and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 15-20 minutes or more depending on how long your browned your meatballs or how large or small they turned out. I always take out my trusty meat thermometer to test my meatballs, as I’m kind of a freak about undercooked meat.
You can serve up these meatballs as is (sans the pasta) paired with some garlic bread (to absorb all the sauce) and a nice big salad, like my lacinato kale salad or kid friendly caesar salad. You could throw them over some linguine or spaghetti to make a traditional spaghetti and meatball dinner. You can also make a batch of meatball subs for a Superbowl party (see instructions at the top of the post). These meatballs pair with just about anything.
I have also made this recipe ahead on a Sunday and then pulled it out for dinner throughout the week. To re-heat, place the meatballs and sauce in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, cover and cook until the sauce is warm and the meatballs are warmed through.