Monday, July 4, 2011

Mini Turkey Meatballs

Successful meatballs? Check.
I've only made meatballs in the setting of a transitional homeless shelter back in high school, when it was all the rage among my (nerdy, but also caring) closest friends. It involved "beef logs," as I like to call them. You know, the 10 pound tubes of beef sitting in the Wal-Mart meat department, begging for a family of 12 to pick up and use for burgers that very night??? Yes, that.
Anyhoo, we didn't really know what we were signing up for, "cooking dinner for the homeless," so we threw together the combined three recipes the 7 of us knew by heart: Spaghetti and meatballs, Garlic bread, and Box brownies. That's it! And I suppose it was all pretty edible and semi-tasty, because the residents asked us to come back one Friday a month for 4 summers...
My friend Kendra taught me how to make meatballs. They were tasty. But, now that I don't do the beef so much, I needed a slightly healthier alternative. In comes the Italian princess herself, with the beautiful smile and slightly balloon-sized head, Giada. I'm not sure why we've only made her chicken drumettes, but there's a whole world of her Italian food out there that I have yet to taste! So we made these Mini Turkey Meatballs. They're moist, delicious, and quite tasty. Here goes:
This takes about an hour to make, but is well worth it!

Mini Turkey Meatballs
lightly adapted from Giada's recipe

*makes 36 meatballs*
1 small onion, peeled and sliced into chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs (We used Italian seasoned)
3 TB ketchup
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino romano, if you're feeling fancy)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Dash of black pepper
1 pound ground turkey (beef or chicken works, too)
1/3 cup olive oil, using only 2 TB at a time
Large jar of marinara (or slave over a hot stove and make your own)

1. In a food processor, combine onion, garlic, and parsley. If there's excess liquid, drain a bit.
2. In a large bowl, combine onion mixture along with all of the other ingredients (except turkey and marinara). Stir until combined. Then add in turkey and blend together. Mixture should be soft but not falling apart too much. If this is the case, add more breadcrumbs or crushed crackers to mixture to firm up a bit.
3. In a large saute pan on medium high, circle around twice with olive oil (about 2 TB). When oil is hot, roll meatballs (1 1/4 inch in size) and put 8 or so in the pan to cook. Turn until brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Move cooked meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat cooking process until all meatballs are cooked. 
4. Serve over a pasta of your choice and top with marinara. (See below on how to "doctor" up a jar of marinara, Matt's way.

Matt's Makeover: Marinara sauce in a jar...
1 large jar of marinara
1/2 each: green and yellow bell peppers, diced
1/2 small can of mushrooms, drained
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped into bits
Dash of ground pepper
2 TB Italian seasoning
Combine all ingredients in a pot and stir. Cover and let simmer for 30+ minutes, or until flavors combine. Stir periodically while simmering.

*Happy 4th!* Enjoy!

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