derek’s request

spaghetti and meatballs, all covered in cheese

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.

all lined up and ready to bake

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.

simma down now

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.

nom nom nom

meatballs & pasta
printer-friendly recipe
adapted from Ina Garten; Ina’s recipe can be found on Smells Like Home
serves: 4-6

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 egg
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.

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4 Responses to derek’s request

  1. mom (aunt Chris) says:

    Did you really make the meatballs only one inch? This sounds like a good recipe and one that I’ll try. I’ve always had trouble making meatballs. But you really should try browning them in the same pan you make your sauce (gravy) in because all the little bits left behind in the pan after they are finished browning just add more flavor to the sauce, especially if you’re using jared sauce. To keep them from burning, brown them on a low heat and put a coating of olive oil in the pan first.

    • jane says:

      they’re probably closer to 1.5 inches– smaller than a golf ball. i actually hate giant meatballs… i fit all 24 on a half-sheet pan, if that helps at all with the size question.

      the problem with browning them on the stove is that 1. our [gas] stove is not very good, so it’s pretty much either on or off, and 2. i hate when i have to move them around to brown and they get smooshed from the tongs. misshapen meatballs are so unappealing to me. but yes, i do agree that the brown bits in the pan are probably worth the trouble. but i’m kinda lazy like that. 😀

  2. mom ( aunt Chris) says:

    Come have dinner at my house some day. I’ll remember not to serve you misshapen meatballs. I promise. :o), <3.

    • jane says:

      haha. it’s not that i JUDGE others’ meatballs, it’s just defeating to spend your time mushing around in ground meat and to have a not-so-perfect-looking result. but i WILL take you up on that dinner offer… promise!

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