Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Meatballs were one of the first things I learned how to cook really well. I've been using the same recipe since Jeff and I got married almost five years ago (adapted from a Rachel Ray meatball pizza, I think) and I love it. The ingredients, with scant instructions, are scrawled on a 3x5 index card, dating from the days before I started collecting pretty recipe cards. You know it's a good one because the card is rumpled and stained from many uses. I still whip it out, though I suppose I don't really need it anymore. I know what goes in a tasty meatball - I've made them dozens of times.
This time, though, I was compelled to change things up a bit. My cholesterol being what it is, I decided to slim this down by substituting ground turkey for the ground beef. I also added in some minced mushroom, since I'm trying to convince myself to like mushrooms. While I find the texture of mushrooms nasty, the flavor can be great, grounding a dish with their savory earthiness.
The result was pretty good. They turned out a bit denser than my regular beef meatballs, most likely due to the lower fat content in the meat. This wasn't a problem - just a reminder that I was eating poultry and not beef. The mushrooms turned out to be a stroke of brilliance, adding a depth that contrasted with the sweetness of my canned tomato sauce (I so miss my home-canned tomatoes - the flavor was head and shoulders above the cans I'm buying at the store. I just didn't make enough to last the winter). With savory mushrooms, salty Parmesan, fresh parsley and sharp onion, the balance of flavors in these meatballs is perfect. They're just as good over pasta as on a freshly-baked Italian roll (which is how we like our leftovers). It's a lightened version, but still a hearty meal.
1 lb ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (or assorted dried herbs)
1/2 yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp white mushroom, minced
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
tomato sauce (preferably homemade - a 28 oz can of tomatoes will make the perfect amount)
In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together. (I knead the whole mixture with one hand, just like I would with bread dough. I find it mixes everything more evenly and ensures the meat balls won't fall apart while cooking.)
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. In another skillet, bring your sauce to a simmer. Back at the counter, take about 2 tbsp of the mixture at a time and roll into balls. (I used less than a pound of turkey this time and ended up with 28 meatballs.) Make sure they are evenly sized.
Place your meatballs carefully in the hot oil (they should sizzle on contact). Cook 2-3 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom.
Turn each meatball over and cook another 1-2 minutes. Depending on the size, you may need a third turn (check for any pink spots on the unbrowned sides - if you find any, your meatballs need another turn).
When the meatballs are done cooking, place each one in the sauce. Cook another 2-3 minutes, so that everything blends together. (Alternatively, you can brown your meatballs on the stove and then plop them in a slow cooker with a healthy amount of sauce. I find this works really nicely with larger meatballs which may not be fully cooked on the stovetop. I've let mine simmer on low for a full workday - the sauce will keep them moist.) Serve over pasta or on crusty rolls.