Man Pleasing Turkey Meatballs

I may have mentioned this from time to time, but Jim is from the Mid-West. Occasionally this causes us to run into culture shock moments as a couple. Most of them revolve around food. Quality, quantity and food group. For instance, the first time I met his family and he told them I didn’t eat red meat. They stared at me like Jim had said I’m a cannibal. “But… why?” his mother said, truly concerned this dietary choice was masking some sort of underlying medical condition or psychological disorder.Turns out in the Mid-West they eat meat at every meal. All 7 of them each day from what I’ve seen.

Trying to cook clean, healthy meals can be a little difficult with a man who wants meat, potatoes and POSSIBLY a vegetable, depending on if it can be sneaked in without him noticing. So last week when I made turkey meatballs I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I had told him in advance, so I casually omitted the word turkey when I said “We’re having meatballs for dinner!” He was so happy I didn’t want to crush his dreams.

I found this great recipe on Pinterest a couple weeks ago and had been dying to try it. It seemed so warm and cozy I knew I had to wait until one of the first cool Fall days to actually try it. The second the forecast called for a high below 70 I was at the grocery store stocking up.

The players. Minus the Febreeze and Smart Water hiding in the background. Please do not add those.

The players. Minus the Febreeze and Smart Water hiding in the background. Please do not add those.

Making meatballs is an intimate experience. If you’re not the type of person who likes to get dirty when you cook or don’t like to really get your hands working into your food, home made meatballs are not for you. It’s about the feel and the sound the meatballs make when they’re coming together that lets you know what needs to be done.

Get everything into the bowl. Then get dirty.

Get everything into the bowl. Then get dirty.

There are no photos from this point until the meatballs are formed because I was home alone while cooking. Apologies if you needed instruction regarding the process. Google Paula Deen. I’m sure she’s done it at some point and she’ll have adorable catch phrases to guide you through.

For the sauce, I slightly modified the recipe that was provided.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15oz) can plain no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes. Note- I like things spicy. Feel free to reduce if this is a little much for your palate of if you have little ones. 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Sea salt if needed. Some people like things a little saltier, I’m not one of them. 
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade. Always fresh basil. I don’t believe in jarred. It has no taste, smell or comforting abilities. 

On medium heat, add the oil and once it has had a chance to heat up throw the garlic on top. Let that simmer for a few minutes until the smell is all around you. Then add the tomato sauce, combine well, followed by the sugar and salt if needed.

Once the sauce is together, add in the meatballs. It will look like this.

This is when the urge to start eating while cooking is it's most intense. The smell is incredible.

This is when the urge to start eating while cooking is it’s most intense. The smell is incredible.

Let everything simmer together for a few minutes so the flavors meld together. Meld is a strange word. Just now, even though I knew it was correct, I had to google it to be sure. Who comes up with these words? And why do I feel the need to complain about them when I’m clearly OK using them? Moving on now. 

Turn off the heat and add the mozzarella and basil. Cover the pan and, this is the hardest part- WAIT. Wait for a full 5 minutes. Because after you do, your creation will look like this.

This is my happy place.

This is my happy place.

Jim got home a few minutes later and devoured 80% of this pan. He kept saying I could make this again, which in his world translates to “This is amazing and I could eat this forever”. I told him when he was done that they were turkey meatballs and he said “Well what did you use for meat?”. Turkey, sweetheart. All turkey. It took a few minutes, but he eventually warmed to the idea and realized that if they were healthier for him that meant he could eat them more often.

These are now a staple in our house. Over pasta, on french bread, on garlic bread, just by themselves. You can’t go wrong. It’s a perfect pre-long run meal for Friday nights. My advice is to make the meatballs in mass quantities and freeze a few servings of them if you have room in  your freezer. If they make it that far…





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