February 17, 2011

Polpettine di Tacchino: Turkey Meatballs

We continue the Search for the Ultimate Meatball with another Mario Batali recipe from Molto Italiano  - Turkey Meatballs. He actually has two turkey meatball recipes in the book, this is the first one. This one features rosemary, the second, prosciutto.

While Mario preaches about the importance of poaching your meatballs in the sauce to get a nice, soft texture, for this recipe he actually calls for some roasting in the oven by themselves before being combined with with the sauce. Odd. So before you start, preheat the oven to a toasty 475 degrees F. Additionally, Mario harps on the importance of using fresh breadcrumbs, rather than the stuff you get in the supermarket. We humored him on this one, and it was probably a good decision.

Fresh breadcrumbs, hand made by Bryan.
Making the Dish

For the meatballs, combine fresh bread crumbs, equal parts ground turkey and pork, a little milk, eggs, finely chopped garlic, some chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, and hot red pepper flakes for a kick of spice.

A fanciful combination of delicious ingredients.
The rosemary is, of course, what really gives this dish it's distinctive flavor, so feel free to add a little more. Just make sure it is finely, finely diced, otherwise you'll be chomping on chunks of rosemary in the finished product. No fun. 

Rosemary, not quite fine enough yet. Chop it further.
After you've got your meat mush blended into a nice meaty mousse (can you handle all that alliteration?), roll it into balls and place in a lightly oiled baking dish. The balls should be about the size that you'd get if you combined the mass of two golf balls into one, larger, golf ball. 

Meat (golf-ball-times-two-sized) balls
 Evenly space these in the dish, and then pop them in the oven. Let them roast for about 15 minutes. While they are roasting, prepare your sauce.  Thinly slice one and a half a red onions into half moons, and coarsley chop up four cloves of garlic. Add them to a saut√© pan with hot olive oil and a branch of rosemary, and let simmer until soft.

The veggies simmer. As you can see, we added some additional chile flakes for extra kick.
 Once softened, add in your wine and bring to a boil to reduce quicikly. Let it reduce for about 3 - 5 minutes, and then add in your tomato sauce. Stir to combine as well as some chopped parsley, and let simmer for a few minutes. Then season to taste with salt and pepper. 

This is starting to look delicious.
Take your meatballs out once they're done and let them cool slightly and cool the temperature of the oven down to 350 F. They'll have a nice, browned exterior that will be slightly tough to the touch. WARNING: They will look, and smell, delicious. Be prepared. 

Cover your meatballs with your sauce, position them so they are all essentially submerged in the sauce, and then place the whole concoction back into the oven.

Submerging the meatballs in sauce. If I had to be cooked, it would be in this sauce. Lucky, lucky meatballs.
Bake the whole thing for 30 - 40 minutes, until the meatballs are done. To test, take out a meatball and slice it open to make sure it is cooked through. If it is, eat it. Because, really, who want's a sliced up meatball on their plate? 

I would. I would like a sliced up meatball on my plate. Now. Please.
The Result

Plate the meatballs into a nice warm bowl with their sauce, drizzle with a touch of olive oil, and then finish off with some grated pecorino romano cheese. Serve with wine.

How good are these meatballs? Pretty darn good. They have a delicious flavor that shows off the rosemary and how well it plays with the tomato. On the texture side, they are a little tough to cut through, thanks to the roasting, and not quite as fall-aparty as you'd get with a beef meatball thanks to the turkey meat. However, this is all okay. Turkey is better for you, and still delicious.

This is a good recipe to come back to if you're looking for a delicious, healthy way to eat restaurant style well. The flavors are complex and intricate, and the overall experience eating them is great. You'll feel both physically and emotionally full after chowing down two or three of these babies.


Check out the complete ingredient list and more pictures of herbie after the jump!

Turkey and Rosemary Meatballs

A delicious and flavorful meatball recipe

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

(Serves: 4)

1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground pork
2.5 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons ground black pepper

For the sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium red onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup dry red wine
1 sprig rosemary
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chopped italian parsley
dash salt and pepper


  1. Thanks Herbie! Can't wait to try this out!! Nom

  2. Yum...these look great Herbie!

  3. using ground chicken thighs and breast using fennel and herbs de provence gives a nice frenchy flavor. French it up by using Pernot for the tomato sauce!

  4. Awwww...your kitty is so cute!
    And those meatballs look perfect. Those pictures have made me hungry again and i just ate dinner...lol


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