By Judyrae Kruse Herald Columnist
Mealballs have always been a family favorite. As far back as I can remember, anyway, never forgetting that all of our moms made them differently.
In addition to the Swedish meatballs and Italian meatballs, every supper table in the neighborhoods I grew up in featured something different, depending on, I suppose, your mom’s ethnic heritage.
There were the meatballs baked on a bed of cabbage in a tomato sauce (sort of like cabbage rolls), ones stuffed with a cube of cheese centered in a well-seasoned hamburger ball, also served in a savory tomato sauce. Not to mention the ones …
Some were served in the sauce they cooked in, some came with a gravy. Some were served over mashed potatoes, some over noodles, some were mixed with a bubbling sauce and tossed with spaghetti.
Oddly enough, in view of their popularity and versatility back then, they don’t seem to turn up on our supper tables very often nowadays. To be honest, though, they never did in those days, either, for some peculiar reason.
Is that sorry situation about to change? Hope so. A couple of months ago, Sequim cook Terry Brundage shared her new meatball discovery, and now Gary Hinz of Everett introduces us to another must-make meatball option.
“Here is a meatball recipe that I think you’ll find very good,” he says, warning, “The ingredients, some of which are hard to find, though, still make this a great possibility for special occasions and, perhaps, for Thanksgiving, for a change of the whole turkey thing.
“I found this in Mario Batali’s cookbook, ‘Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Recipes to Cook at Home.’ “
Big turkey meatballs
8-10 thick slices day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (4 cups)
2pounds ground turkey
4ounces prosciutto di Parma, cut into 1/8-inch dice
8ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3eggs, lightly beaten
1/2cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, divided
1/4cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4cup finely chopped Italian parsley, divided
Several gratings nutmeg
1/2cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2cups basic tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1/2cup dry white wine
Soak the bread in water to cover for 5 minutes, then squeeze out excess water.
In a large bowl, combine the turkey, prosciutto, sausage, bread, eggs, 1/4 cup of the Pecorino cheese, the Parmigiano cheese, 1/2 cup of the parsley, the nutmeg and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Mix all ingredients together, very gently, with your hands. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into 3-inch balls, place on a baking sheet, cover and refrigrate for 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.
In a 10-12-inch, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Transfer meatballs to a plate and drain off the oil.
Add the tomato sauce and wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Place the meatballs in the sauce and return to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Transfer to a platter and serve with the remaining 1/4 cup each Pecorino cheese and parsley sprinkled over the top.
Basic tomato sauce
1/4cup extra-virgin olive oil
1Spanish onion, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice
4cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2medium carrot, finely shredded
2cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes
Heat oil over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan; add onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook until the carrot is quite soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their juice and bring to boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until mixture is as thick as hot cereal, about 30 minutes. Season with salt. Makes 4 cups.
Note: You can make the sauce ahead of time and put in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
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