mains, pork, poultry, pasta, grains, + noodles

spaghetti and turkey meatballs

Turkey meatballs don't usually turn many heads.  And when you need a meatball (and sometimes you do), you're not usually dreaming of turkey.  Until now, friends, until now.

These are some rich, moist and absolutely delicious meatballs.  The key is the addition of the sausage and prosciutto along with soaking the bread crumbs in milk (which you should always do when making meatballs). Don't want things too spicy?  Switch out the spicy sausage for sweet and eliminate the red pepper.

And they happen to be on the healthier side of things which never hurts.  Well, until you use the leftovers to make meatball parm sandwiches that is.

spaghetti and spicy turkey meatballs

adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa

Serves 8-10

makes 24 meatballs

for the meatballs:

3 c fresh bread cubes in about 1" pieces*

2/3 c milk

2 lb ground turkey (I used 1lb each breast, thigh)

1/2 lb pound spicy Italian pork sausage, casings removed

4-5 pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped

1 c grated parmesan

1/2 c fresh parsley, minced

1 t oregano

1 t crushed red pepper flakes

3 T  olive oil, plus extra for brushing the meatballs

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

for the sauce:

3 28 oz cans of great quality crushed tomatoes

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 c onion, chopped

olive oil

splash of red wine or more to taste

handful of fresh basil, chopped

1 t sugar (optional)

salt, pepper to taste

2 lbs spaghetti

grated parmesan for serving

* This is no time for Progresso.  Take some day old rustic bread, remove the crust and cut it up.

Preheat oven to 400º

Soak the bread crumbs in milk while you are prepping the rest of the ingredients for the meatballs.

In a large bowl, mix together all of the remaining ingredients.

I like to use my hands so I can feel if things are well incorporated but taking care not to over do things.  Form into balls and place them on parchment lined sheet pans.  Lightly brush the tops with a little olive oil. Bake for about 40 minutes.

While your meatballs are baking, start your sauce by heating a large heavy bottom pot.  Over med-high heat, add a couple of swirls of olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onions and garlic.  Lower the heat to low-medium and cook until they have a little color.  Add in the tomatoes, wine, about 1 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Let the flavors come together for a few minutes and taste.  I do add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes for my palate.  Let simmer.

When the meatballs are done, carefully add them to the sauce until they are all submerged.

Let simmer for about an hour. Add in the basil and adjust the seasonings again. Serve over pasta with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese.