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


  1. Soak the bread in water to cover for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

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