Most times when I begin a blog post I document the recipe and then write the commentary. But in this case, I started my opening paragraphs before I even knew what recipe would follow. That’s because I was in the mood for a creamy, savory “pasta like” dish. I know “pasta like” sounds ridiculous. But more often than not I try to prepare a meal without a side starch. (If you knew me, you would know how difficult that is. Potatoes, pasta, and rice are like life blood to me.)
But as I was writing away, I thought about this dish and how well it would fulfill my “near pasta” craving. And in fact, when I dine on these meatballs and their heavenly sauce, I don’t miss the pasta at all. I know –blasphemy! But it’s true. This dish is just that good.
Now granted, this recipe is not low calorie or low cholesterol. But dang, it’s hard to give up everything I hold dear! I figure if I serve these meatballs with a healthy green salad dressed with an olive oil based dressing, I’m at least on the right side of a well balanced meal. (It’s really hard when you grew up in the meat and potatoes era. For many of us who still remember things like party lines, Burma Shave signs, and 25 cents per gallon gas, every instinct about meal planning still begins and ends with what starch to serve. And believe me, it’s hard to train old brains to do new tricks. And my old brain, full to the brim with the most trivial of information, is no exception.)
So do yourself and your family a favor. Fix these meatballs some evening for dinner and leave that package of pasta firmly ensconced on the pantry shelf. Just think of this recipe as a perfect example of a quintessential NW winter dish. Cloudy with a chance of meatballs!
- ¼ c. dried breadcrumbs
- 1/4 c. + 1 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 T. chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 T. milk
- 16 to 20 oz. ground turkey or chicken meat
- 2 T. butter
- one quarter of a small yellow onion, very finely minced
- 5 tsp. flour
- 1 (14.5-oz.) can chicken stock or broth (or 2 cups)
- 1/2 c. heavy cream (whole milk will work in a pinch)
Combine breadcrumbs, ¼ cup Parmesan, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, and milk in a medium large mixing bowl. Gently stir in ground turkey. (Mix only until combined. Do not over mix.) Form into 1-inch meatballs (I use a small ice cream scoop) and place on a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet. Bake meatballs in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small heavy pan and sauté the onion over medium heat just until translucent. Do not let the onion get brown. Sprinkle onion with flour, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock until no lumps remain. Whisk in the heavy cream. Turn heat to medium low and simmer until sauce burbles, thickens, and is good and hot. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and a couple grinds of black pepper. Taste and add salt if necessary. When ready to serve, spoon meatballs on to a serving platter and dollop with sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley. Sauce and meatballs can also be served over cooked pasta.
Note: Meatballs can be made ahead and either refrigerated if used within a couple of days or frozen for up to 2 months. The sauce, nope! Don’t even think about it! And these meatballs (sans the sauce of course) in chicken noodle soup. Amazing!