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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spicy Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

Everyone knows that I love Italian food. But, as I have mentioned in the past, I don't often cook traditional Italian foods because so many of my friends are pure-blooded Italians and I leave it to them. However, I was watching Barefoot Contessa this past weekend and watched Ina make these spicy turkey (and sausage and prosciutto, drool) meatballs and I knew that I'd be making them ASAP. Ina served her meatballs on top of spaghetti and jarred sauce, but I was warned by multiple friends (near and far) that this was sacrilegious and was told to not make this same mistake.

So, I made Ina's meatballs and my first ever all-day-sauce, adapted from Cook's Illustrated. Everything about this dish was wonderful. The sauce was rich and hearty, and naturally sweet with a spicy kick. The meatballs are denser than traditional meatballs (after all, they are made from turkey, not beef), and they have the most amazing flavor (thank you, sausage... thank you, prosciutto). This was an absolute hit. I would not change a thing about it. Don't be scared by the number of ingredients... it really is an easy recipe. This recipe will make enough sauce & meatballs for 2 lbs. of pasta and will feed 8 very hungry people.

3 cups 1-inch bread cubes from a round rustic bread (whatever that means), crust removed
2/3 cup whole milk
2 lbs. ground turkey (85%-92% lean)
1/2 lb. italian sausage, castings removed
4 ounces (1/4 lb.) thinly sliced then diced prosciutto
1 cup freshly grated (in food processor) parmesan 
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing meatballs
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

Put the bread cubes in the food processor and grind until medium-sized bread crumbs. Pour into a small bowl and add the milk, stirring to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes. 

In a large bowl, using your hands, carefully combine the milk-soaked bread, ground turkey, sausage, prosciutto, parmesan, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add the olive oil and egg and combine carefully using a fork. Roll into 2-inch balls and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush tops of meatballs with a bit of olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and cooked through. Remove from oven and place in pot of sauce.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons parmesan, grated (in food processor) 
1 teaspoon dried basil

Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the grated onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, chicken broth, and white wine, and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down to low and cook until thickened (about 20 minutes). Add the salt, pepper, parmesan, and dried basil and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for a few hours- if the sauce gets too thick, you can thin it out by adding more tomato juice or chicken broth. Add the meatballs and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for a few more hours to let the meatballs braise and flavor the sauce. Taste for salt, pepper, sugar, red pepper flakes, etc. Once finished, serve over spaghetti and enjoy! 

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