Snowday Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

DSC02109Without fail, the DC area overreacts to even a hint of inclement weather. Case in point: the federal government shut down on Tuesday due to a good two inches of wet snow fall.  The subject of my company’s e-mail from HR literally read: “Severe Weather Closure DC office”. If you would like an accurate summary of this apocalyptic event, I direct you to this Buzzfeed article.

Please do not think I am complaining about my delusional city. I love these silly snow days with all my heart and will never tire of them. Though I still had to “work from home”, this snowday gave me the luxury of having the time to cook meatballs! Homemade meatballs can take quite a while to pull together especially if you decide to make your own sauce.

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (I suggest buying the kind with a little bit of fat in it, the 99% lean kind is hard to form into meatballs)
  • 1 bunch of Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 3 tablespoons of ketchup
  • A few pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cups of homemade tomato sauce or store-bought marinara sauce (you can use my recipe here for bolognese just skip the meat in the sauce)

If you are making your own tomato sauce, start cooking the sauce a least an hour before your meatballs. You need to give your sauce about an hour to simmer on its own.

Chop up your parsley and garlic. Add to a large bowl and follow with your egg, breadcrumbs, and cheese. Next, it’s time to grate your onion. Remove the outer peel and cut the onion in half. Grab your cheese grater but brace yourself, you’re probably in for some tears. However, a grated onion is best for dishes like meatballs because you come out with evenly shaped pulp and onion juice which distribute nicely throughout your mixture.

DSC02047Follow with a few pinches of salt and pepper and mix with a fork.

DSC02049Add your ketchup and mix thoroughly.


Mix in the ground turkey and use your hands to combine the ingredients but don’t over work your meat. This will cause a dense and undesirable texture. No bueno. Also, please do not be turned off by the picture below.

DSC02073To keep make your meatballs easier to shape, cover and store this mixture in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

After you have allowed the meat to cool, shape the turkey into  1 1/4 inch diameter meatballs (or if you’re feeling fancy, use an ice cream scoop). Place on a baking sheet.

Heat olive oil in a heavy, large frying pan over medium/high heat. Add the meatballs and sauté until browned on all sides. This should take about 5 minutes.

DSC02092Remove the meatballs from the pan and transfer to a clean plate. Pour out any excess oil from the pan.

DSC02100Next, add 3 cups of your tomato sauce to the frying pan and return your meatballs to the pan as well. Turn your heat on simmer and braise for an hour. Allowing your meatballs simmer in a sauce for an extended period of time encourages tenderness and lends flavor to your sauce. But don’t over cook! An hour should be plenty of time. Remove the pan from the heat when your meatballs are tender to a fork.

DSC02104Boil fresh spaghetti and top with your delicious Italian meatballs. Sprinkle with freshly grated pecorino romano  and enjoy a hearty meal fit for a chilly winter night.


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