Without question, Italian American cuisine is my ideal comfort food.
For me, this food will always be associated, first and foremost, with family. Not because I’m Italian (which, actually, I’m not even a smidge of) but because it’s what we always ate on my birthday, and what we asked for whenever Mom was taking requests, and it’s what I crave when I’m home for the holidays. Although my family isn’t Italian, you wouldn’t know it by the shovels of manicotti, penne, and lasagna I grew up on.
More specifically, it’s the red
sauce gravy that really satiates. It reminds me of lazy weekends when pots of sauce would be simmering on the stove, bottles of juicy red wine would be opened, invigorating company and conversation, and we’d feast on the hearty meatballs or penne strewn through it.
I made turkey meatballs tonight, and they brought with them that rush of nostalgia and good feelings. Funny how food does that.
Healthier then your classic beef or veal, these turkey meatballs have less fat but stay fantastically moist by incorporating milk-soaked day old bread. They’re light and flavorful. The perfect meal to make for your next family gathering.
• 1.25 lb ground turkey
• 3/4 cup cubed day-old bread, crusts removed (I
used rosemary sourdough, it’s what happened to be
• 1/4-1/2 cup milk or just enough to thoroughly
moisten the bread
• 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pounded with a
bit of salt
• 1 tbs fresh chopped parsley
• 1 tsp dried Italian Seasoning
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1/8-1/4 cup grated Parmesan
• fresh ground pepper
• olive oil (for frying)
• 1 small onion, finely minced. Though I adore
onions, I was forced to omit this as my boyfriend
detests them, and worse, can pick any hint of
onion out like a needle in a haystack.
• A pinch of cayenne pepper
• Chopped pine nuts
1. In a small bowl, combine cubed bread and the milk. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Next, squeeze most of the milk out of the soaking bread and add the bread to the meat (along with the minced onion if you are using.) Discard the used milk.
3. Now add the garlic, herbs, egg, and Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Combine all ingredients with your hands. The mixture should feel very moist, but not overly wet. At this point, the smell from the herbs was divine.
4. Roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs, and preheat a heavy skillet on medium.
5. Pour about 1/8-1/4 inch olive oil in the pan. Wet your hand and flick a little water into the hot oil. If it sizzles, it’s hot enough for the meatballs to be added. Toss the meatballs around in the pan so they brown evenly on all sides. You will most likely have to fry in two batches.
6. Cook until the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle, but be careful not to overcook, or risk drying out the meat. About 6-8 minutes a batch should do it.
7. Drain the meatballs on a paper towel to soak up excess oil, stir in with your favorite red sauce, pasta, and enjoy!