turkey meatballs

DSC_0081Meatballs, 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.

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turkey meatballs:

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.

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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.  DSC_0005-2Add in the 2 pounds of turkey, 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup of parmesan, 2 tablespoons oregano, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

DSC_0011Using your hands, fork or a rubber spatula, mix gently just until well combined.  Do not overmix or the meatballs will be tough.

DSC_0014Line 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.

DSC_0027Heat 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.

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 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.

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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. DSC_0057

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.
DSC_0078You 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.

turkey meatballsI 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.

turkey meatballs

turkey meatballs

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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. 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.

Using your hands, fork or a rubber spatula, mix gently just until well combined. Do not overmix or the meatballs will be tough.

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. 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.

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.

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.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2013/01/turkey-meatballs/

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{ 23 comments… add one }

  • angela @ anotherbiteplease January 23, 2013, 8:22 pm

    i just made meatball subs last night…I wish I would have done your recipe…I made mine with ground beef so I didn’t eat and there was barely any sauce…a bummer…however the boys ate so that always makes mama happy :-) but when I make meatballs again I am making YOURS! and then the leftover subs as well. also i love love how browned yours are!!!

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy January 23, 2013, 9:18 pm

    Thanks Angela! At least your boys enjoyed their dinner, right? That’s what counts anyway. This meatball recipe comes from one of my favorite family cookbooks. The cookbook is written and created by a chef who use to cook for families, so every recipe in there is kid approved and healthy. I have made 4 recipes from this book and all have been big hits. The sauce and meatballs were simple to make! Let me know if you make them! xoxo, Jackie

    Reply
  • Gina @ So Lets Hang Out January 23, 2013, 11:39 pm

    Ooooh! You are appealing to my Italian sensibilities here. I made meatballs on the night that I got engaged. They will now forever hold a special place in my heart! Yours look simply delish! Perfect for this terrible rainy weather.

    Reply
  • jackie @ marin mama cooks January 24, 2013, 2:20 pm

    What a happy memory Gina! Yes, they are the perfect winter comfort food.

    Reply
  • Marina@Picnic at Marina January 24, 2013, 2:07 am

    How interesting, this morning I was visiting an old lady, mother of friend of mine, and she shared a recipe for… meatballs! I am surprised each time we experience such connection! :) How cool is that?! We even have same cast iron skillet, well seasoned with love. Anyway, your dinner looks delicious, can I have some too? :)

    Reply
  • jackie @ marin mama cooks January 24, 2013, 2:27 pm

    Hi Marina! I love how the universe works! There are similarities and synchronicitys everywhere. We’re all connected and it’s pretty amazing when we see connections pop up no matter how small they are. Yes, pop on by! I will let you know the next time I whip up a batch of meatballs. Have a great day Marina. xoxo, Jackie

    Reply
  • Sharon B. January 24, 2013, 2:31 am

    Yum! I love turkey meatballs, actually better than beef ones! Your recipe sounds delish and similar to one I use with the breadcrumbs and milk. Sometimes I’ll use fresh bread too. I am so craving this with your tomato sauce and spaghetti squash! I might be making it this weekend. :)

    I so understand about the meat thing – I always use a thermometer! If I don’t, I undercook or overcook it and when I use a thermometer, it comes out just the way I want it and I don’t have to think much about it.

    Hope your week is going well! It’s been busy but going okay. I hope to do more stuff with the bedroom this weekend. We got our blinds yesterday and put them up and I love them! :) Talk to you soon. xoxo, Sharon

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy January 24, 2013, 2:36 pm

    Hi Sharon! Yes, meatballs are meatballs. I think everyone has a similar recipe of their own, I mean how many different ways can you make up meatballs? They’re really like mini hamburgers with some sauce if you think about it. I’m a bit OD’d on spaghetti squash since we have had it 3x this month between the spaghetti squash and pasta and the tacos. I think I will take a break from it for a month. That’s whats great about being a food blogger, you get and have to try new recipes all the time. My kids are now scanning through cookbooks ear marking recipes for me to try. So darn cute! I hate undercooked meat. I remember when I was pregnant with Zoe and we went to a neighbors (old neighbors) for burgers and they undercooked the burgers, they were almost raw. I wouldn’t touch it as I was afraid to eat it because I was pregnant with Zoe, and you know how it goes. So, since then, I like my meats cooked through.
    My week has been great, but I have been burning the candle at both ends. I have been staying up way past my bedtime and still getting up at 5:00. I think I’m going to take a day off from the gym today and make soup! I’m so excited that you got your blinds. I can’t wait to see the photos! xoxo, Jackie

    Reply
  • l o v e l y t h i n g s January 24, 2013, 12:45 pm

    Jackie,
    These look and sound so good…I love your step by step photos. Not only helpful, but beautiful!
    annie

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy January 24, 2013, 2:28 pm

    Thanks Annie :)

    Reply
  • christellar January 24, 2013, 4:53 pm

    Beautiful Jackie! I’ve been looking for a nice turkey meatball recipe without egg; perfect! thank you!

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy January 24, 2013, 6:31 pm

    Thanks Chris! I hate to burst your bubble, but unfortunately there are eggs in these meatballs :( Bummer! I do have a skillet chicken parmesan recipe that doesn’t require any eggs and is so easy to whip up and tastes amazing. Check it out!

    Reply
  • Kepanie January 25, 2013, 12:09 am

    These look delicious! Glad I found you blog. I did what you did when I made the fingerling potatoes again – heaing up the pan before placing the potatoes on it. What a yummy sizzle they made and yes, they were crispy.

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy January 25, 2013, 1:43 am

    Hi Kepanie! SO glad you love those potatoes. They’re our version of french fries. So crispy and with the added herbs, yum!

    Reply
  • Michelle January 25, 2013, 2:15 am

    gorgeous pics! They look delicious!

    Reply
  • midnightvisitor January 25, 2013, 3:06 am

    Meatballs are our favorite too. Thx for sharing the recipe, it’s a keeper. Love meatballs, Yeah!!!

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy January 26, 2013, 1:26 am

    Awesome! Love that you love meatballs! :)

    Reply
  • Em January 25, 2013, 11:09 pm

    Hi Love!! Wow someone who prefers turkey meatballs to regular ones?! Do you prefer them as well?? I really WANT to like turkey, cos it has such a great amino acid profile, but EVERY turkey recipe Ive made has turned out super dry!! Although I bet the tomato sauce is amazing with these anyways.. Louis has pretty much made me promise to give up on turkey but Im going to bookmark these anyways!! :) BUT Guess what though!? Im making a batch of your brownies to take into work tomorrow! I FINALLY have a great outlet to dispense of my fattening homemade baked goods and your brownies have been first on my list for a while.. these homeless guys arent going to know what hit them! :) Love you! xoxoxo

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy January 26, 2013, 1:11 am

    Hey sweetie! I really don’t have a preference turkey vrs traditional meatballs. I love them both. I have made the more traditional type before with the sausage and the works and then these, and they both taste great, I just like to mix it up a bit. These meatballs don’t taste dry and I think its because of the milk and the cheese. I use to be like Louis and think turkey burgers were dry until I tried the two burger recipes on my site. Now, I love them and actually prefer them to your standard red meat burger. You gotta make your hubby happy though and if you promised him that you weren’t going to make anything with turkey anymore, then you gotta keep your promise, right?
    I love that you’re making the brownies. I just love those brownies! SO you have to fill me in, who are you making them for? Are you working with the homeless? What’s your new job girlfriend, you have to tell me… I’m so curious! miss and love you bunches! xoxo, Jackie

    Reply
  • Rebecca March 11, 2013, 4:04 am

    I found your recipe on FoodGawker; though I had never made meatballs I gave it a try anyway and made them for my boyfriend. We just finished dinner and it was AMAZING. Thank you so much for the great (and super simple) recipe. =)

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy March 11, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Hi Rebecca. Awesome news! I’m so glad that your first experience with meatballs turned out so well :) Thanks for letting me know. xoxo, Jackie

    Reply
  • Monica January 26, 2014, 7:29 pm

    I really love your blog your chicken soup was my first soup adventure and it was great.

    question?

    what is the best way to store the turkey meatballs? how are they after they have been frozen?

    thank you and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • jackiegrandy January 27, 2014, 1:28 am

    Hi Monica! Yaay! Glad you loved the chicken soup girl! To be honest, I’ve never frozen these meatballs. We’ve always just enjoyed them as leftovers throughout the week. I usually make them up with the sauce, since we love spaghetti and meatballs, or turkey subs, so I usually just store them with the sauce in the refrigerator in a covered glass container. You can store these in the fridge in a sealed container by themselves though. If you’re just re-heating the meatballs sans the sauce, I would re-heat them in a 250 degree oven till warmed through, in a skillet or via the old microwave. I’m sure they would taste great reheated after being frozen as well. :) xoxo, Jackie

    Reply

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