POLPETTE DI TACHINO (Italian turkey meatballs, for 6)
“The fortune and success found by immigrant Italians in America had a great effect on their cooking. The reason a meatball tastes so good and is so tender in Italy is the reliance on day-old bread, soaked in milk or water, to bring lightness to a firm texture of pure protein. Newly wealthy Italian Americans saw such frugality as a sign of weakness and started to make their meatballs without the bread, losing a whole world of texture.” Mario Batali, Molto Italiano
8 to 10 thick slices day-old bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (4 cups)
2 pounds ground turkey
4 ounces proscuitto di Parma, cut into 1/8 inch dice
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup freshly grated pecorino Romano
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¾ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
several gratings of nutmeg
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups Mario’s marinara
1 cup dry white wine
- Soak the bread in water to cover for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water.
- In a large bowl, combine the turkey, proscuitto, sausage, bread, eggs, ¼ cup of the pecorino, the Parmigiano, ¼ cup of the parsley, the nutmeg and ¼ cup of the olive oil and mix very gently with your hands. Season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 3 inch balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.
- In a 10 to 12 inch heavy bottomed saute pan, heat the remaining ¼ cup olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides (six to eight minutes). Transfer the meatballs to a plate and drain off the oil.
- Add the tomato sauce and wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Place the meatballs in the sauce and return to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup each pecorino and parsley and serve.
MEATBALL REDUX: Mario’s meatball heroes
adapted from Mario Batali, Molto Italiano