While we don’t always agree on music, fashion, books, exercise, or even cleaning etiquette, in my family we are all on the same side when it comes to politics and meatballs. It makes me feel proud, like Paul and I have raised three kids who have their heads on straight, even if they can’t pick up towels in the bathroom.
But back to the meatballs. Over the years, we’ve made and eaten thousands of them, from salmon and herb to falafel, Spanish albondigas and spicy pork with sesame. All of these forms of protein in a ball shape leave bellies full and spirits light. Meatballs, in all their forms, make people happy and will feed just about anyone who sits at the table: young, old, fussy, easy going and, with a little creativity and the right ingredients, even vegans. It’s a lot to ask of the humble little meatball.
In this version, classic Italian flavors come together with little effort, and I use a food processor and an ice cream scoop to make life even easier. There are a few rules to making meatballs, no matter where in the world your inspiration comes from. First, chop everything fine. Big chunks of onion sticking out of the meatball doesn’t look (or taste) great. Make sure they’re not dry: add enough eggs and don’t overcook them. No one likes a dry meatball. Important too, is, serving your meatballs with some kind of sauce. Here, it’s the tried-and-true red sauce.
Last rule? Make a lot of them, because everyone loves meatballs, even if they cannot agree on anything else.
Sausage and Turkey Meatballs
Makes about 22
- ½ large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- Leaves from one large bunch of flat-leaf parsley (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 pound bulk Italian chicken sausage
- 1 pound ground turkey (I used the less lean variety)
- For serving: pasta, red sauce, extra cheese
- Heat the oven to 350°, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine the onions, garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it’s all finely and uniformly chopped. Scrape into a large bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and cheese. Mix well. Use your hands to add the sausage and the turkey, and mix gently to evenly combine.
- Use an ice cream scoop to shape the meatballs (mine is 2” wide and that makes a good sized meatball.) Place them on the baking sheets, with a little space around each. Bake for 25 minutes, and then slice one open to check for doneness.
- You can finish the cooking by simmering them in a pot of red sauce, or bake until they’re completely cooked through in the oven.
Tip: Cooked meatballs keep well frozen: wrap them tightly and freeze for up to six months.
Caroline Barrett writes about food and families. She teaches cooking classes at Different Drummer’s Kitchen in Albany. You can find her at www.carolinebarrett.com.
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