I’m convinced meatballs are one of the most versatile foods. Not only can you put whatever you want in them, but they’re great served as appetizers, eaten in meatball subs, served on top of spaghetti, thrown in soups, served with mashed potatoes as a full meal, etc. etc. etc. So I experimented with making Turkey meatballs, and I came up with this recipe.
These meatballs have a bunch of spices and flavor that take them over the edge. The secret to making moist meatballs is soaking fresh or stale bread in milk and adding it to your mixture. Dried, packaged bread crumbs soak up all the moisture from the meatballs, while fresh bread crumbs soaked in milk redistribute the moisture throughout the meatballs. This is a super handy recipe for when you have too much stale bread in the kitchen and a package of ground turkey or other kind of ground meat. Any kind of fresh or stale bread works — sandwich bread, baguettes, or dinner rolls.
This recipe has many different spices. Feel free to omit any of the spices or add other spices that you prefer. I also added tomato paste to the meatballs, and that’s entirely optional. It just added some needed depth to these meatballs. You could totally add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, if you wanted.
To make them in advance, roll out the meatballs, arrange them each on a large tray, and then place the whole tray in the freezer until each meatball is frozen. After each meatball is frozen, throw them all in a large ziplock bag and store the whole bag in the freezer until you need them.
Here’s what you need:
Ground turkey breast meat, bread, milk, an egg, fresh parsley, onion (red or white works), garlic, and spices (such as crushed red chili flakes, paprika, dried basil, dried thyme, etc.)
Line one or two large baking sheets with foil and grease it with a hefty drizzle of olive oil. You’ll need a few tablespoons.
Start off by tearing your fresh/stale bread into small crumbs(about 1 cm cubes), just like this. The pieces don’t need to be too small, but don’t make them too big, either.
Now add some whole milk(I really wouldn’t try this with non-fat milk. you might as well be using water, if you do.) Allow the bread crumbs to soak for at least 5 minutes until it becomes soft and thoroughly moistened.
Now chop up some onion. Red, yellow, or white onion. Whatever you have on hand.
Mince some garlic while you’re at it.
Add some olive oil to a small pan…
And add your onion and garlic.
Now add some crushed red chili flakes. If you’re opposed to any amount of spice, you can leave these out. Continue cooking the onions until softened and browned.
Now, let’s form the meatball mixture! In a large bowl, add the soaked bread to the ground turkey. The bread should have soaked up all the milk.
Add the cooked onions and garlic. You can let them cool down for a few minutes before you add them to the bowl.
Add a beaten egg, por favor.
And add some chopped fresh parsley leaves, freshly ground black pepper, and salt.
Don’t forget the parm. Absolutely do not forget the parm.
Now load up on the spices. I kind of went crazy. It was like a storm of spices in this bowl. Paprika, dried basil, dried thyme, dried oregano…
Now add about two tablespoons of tomato paste. It adds a deep layer of flavor to ordinary meatballs. Try it.
Now mix it all up, just until combined.
Oh, what the heck. I’ll just use your hands to mix it up. Don’t over-mix the meatballs!
That looks quite combined!
Now, using a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon, measure out a heaping tablespoon of turkey mixture.
And roll it into a ball. You know, to make a meatball, after all.
Just like this, y’all. (Good god, now I’m trying to rhyme in this post.) Throw them in the oven ’til they look like toast.
These meatballs look golden and delicious…
Baked Turkey Meatballs
Total time: 46 minutes
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 26 min
Yield: about 40 meatballs
Any kind of fresh or stale bread, torn into small pieces to measure 1½ cups total
½ cup whole milk
1 cup chopped red or white onion (1 small red or white onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 ½ pound ground turkey breast
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Position the rack in your oven to lower middle level and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with foil and lightly grease with about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Place torn bread in a small bowl and mix with milk. Set aside and allow to soak for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, crushed red chili flakes, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook ingredients, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, add turkey, soaked bread, cooked onion mixture, parsley, parmesan cheese, beaten egg, tomato paste, paprika, dried basil, dried oregano, and dried thyme. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper, or add more to taste. Combine ingredients thoroughly with your hands until mixed.
Measure out a heaping tablespoon of turkey mixture and roll into a meatball. Place meatballs about 1-2 inches apart on lined greased baking sheets. Bake until golden brown for 20 minutes, or until cooked through and not pink in the middle. Serve immediately.