Like most right thinking people, I love meatballs. Indeed, I could happily sit in front of the TV and eat an entire bowl of the things as a tasty snack (although, I’m sure that my cholesterol levels wouldn’t like me too much if I did). Back in the days where I used to spend my Saturday nights wearing inappropriate heels and drinking far too many £2.50 double whisky and cokes, I’d regularly round off my night by getting a Meatball Marinara sandwich from all night Subway at the bottom of my road. I doubt there were any natural ingredients in the things at all, but I’d take great delight in drunkenly attempting to eat one with a knife and fork before inevitably passing out with globs of red sauce splatted down my dress.
I’m convinced that my Mum makes the best meatballs in the world, but sadly, I’ve never been able to replicate her amazing specimens in my own kitchen. Indeed, the last time I attempted to do so, I was left with a huge pan of what can only be described as ‘meat paste’. I still ate it, but I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience any time soon. So, because my Mother refuses to set up her own meatball-delivery-service, I have been forced to develop my own foolproof recipe.
This inspiration for these specimens came from the always brilliant Smitten Kitchen, and her recipe for Baked Chicken Meatballs. I replaced the chicken with turkey mince (mainly because I had a portion taking up space at the back of my freezer), used some dried breadcrumbs in place of the italian bread, and added a few extra herbs. And then, I baked them. If you’re used to cooking your meatballs by just dunking them raw into a pot of sauce, then prepare to have your mind blown. These are small, juicy rounds of pure deliciousness – and the perfect thing to make if you’ve never been able to master the fine art of the meatball before.
I put mine in a sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, chillies and a huge whack of smoked paprika, but I imagine that they’d go equally as well with a creamy, lemon-spiked sauce, or eaten whole in a huge unwieldy sandwich. But however you choose to eat them, I suggest you make them the next time a meatball craving hits. They’re definitely the best use I’ve found for turkey since Christmas Dinner.
BAKED TURKEY MEATBALLS (makes roughly 15 meatballs)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
You will need:
- 250g turkey mince
- 3 slices of bacon finely chopped
- 3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
- 80ml milk
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 7. Add the milk to the breadcrumbs in a small bowl until it’s all soaked in and becomes a big carby paste.
- Cook the bacon in a tablespoon of olive oil until the fat has rendered down, then add the onion, and garlic along with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Once the onion and garlic have softened, take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
- Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with the turkey mince, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, the bacon mixture, breadcrumb paste, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Take tablespoons of the mix and roll them into meatballs until all of the mixture has been used up, and arrange them in a medium sized roasting tin.
- Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs with a pastry brush or (if you’re not got one and have been forced to improvise with leftover DIY supplies, a wee paintbrush you’ve decided to use instead of a pastry brush). The tomato puree/oil doesn’t really combine together well, but just smoosh the mix onto each meatball until fully covered. Once you’ve done this, bake them in the oven for around 20-25 minutes until they’re just done.
- Once they’re cooked, you can add them to spaghetti sauce, stick them in sandwiches, or just eat big handfuls of them as a tasty snack.