When planning our dinner menu for a week, I try to get Derek’s input on what he’d like to eat. He’s usually at a loss and gives the standard “whatever” response when I ask, but one Sunday, he let me know that he could really go for some spaghetti and meatballs.
Not having grown up eating meatballs (we were a meat sauce family), I have tried numerous recipes over the years. The traditional meatball mix of pork, beef, and veal just doesn’t do it for me and turkey meatballs almost always leave something to be desired. I also find the frying to be messy and the results are almost always misshapen, slightly burnt meatballs.
I have recently perfected my meatballs and I should have known that the Barefoot Contessa would be the inspiration behind this recipe. Combining ground turkey with pork is the key to getting the right consistency and baking them means you don’t have to stand in front of a stove and risk getting splattered. This is how I’ll be making meatballs from now on.
1 1/2 cups (1-inch diced) white bread cubes, crusts removed
1/3 cup milk
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound bulk sweet or mild Italian pork sausage (or links with casings removed)
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing the meatballs
1 jar (24-ounces) of your favorite marinara sauce
1 pound pasta (linguine, spaghetti, etc.)
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat. Pulse the bread in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until it is in medium crumbs. Place the crumbs in a small bow and add the milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, sausage, bread and milk mixture, Asiago cheese, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Lightly combine with your hands. Add the olive oil and egg and mix to combine. With your hands, lightly roll the mixture into 1-inch round meatballs (approximately 24) and place them on the prepared sheet pan. Brush the meatballs with additional olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops are browned and the meatballs are cooked through.
Pour the marinara sauce in a large, low pot, add the meatballs and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. To serve, portion out the pasta into individual bowls, and top with 4-6 meatballs per serving with the sauce and finish with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.