In our family, it is very rare for us to eat ground beef (my husband's not a big fan), so we usually keep ground turkey on hand instead. The problem with ground turkey is that it can dry out easily, and be pretty bland. Well, that is NOT the case with these meatballs. They are unbelievably moist and tender, though the preparation would make you think otherwise.
This is the only recipe I use for meatballs (whether I'm making this dish, or anything else). I would only add spices/herbs too it to change the flavor, but never take anything away. For just a "plain" meatball, this is it for me. Because of the spices I use, some people would call them "Swedish Meatballs" but I don't think the spices are strong enough to warrant that name. If you tasted just the meatballs you would think That's a great meatball! But I don't think you would be imagining that it was any nationality over another.
I usually serve these meatballs in a creamy sauce that use the same spices, but even more so. So, I call the sauce a "Swedish" sauce. I wonder if people from Sweden actually eat anything like "Swedish Meatballs" - probably not. I hope their not offended.
Any which way you call it, these meatballs and noodles in sauce are AMAZING! I'm telling you. You're world of meatballs will be forever changed! I base my meatball recipe on Alton Brown's Swedish Meatballs, so I have to give him credit. Thank you Mr. Brown. You have changed my world for the better once again.
OK enough talking. Let's get cooking.
Put a large pot of water on the stove to come up to boil for your noodles. While that's happening . . .
You need 1/5 pounds of fresh ground, lean turkey
2 slices of bread and 1/4 cup of milk. (I have used white, wheat, and today I'm using potato bread. White or potato bread give the best texture/flavor, but any would work.)
Break the bread up into a bowl and add the milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the meat and the soaked bread.
Then add 1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (just eyeball this).
and two egg yolks. (The chicken that laid the egg on the left must have been a little anemic. It's not as orange as the one on the right. Oh well. They're both getting mixed together.)
Mix this all up - using the paddle attachment, and then add some sauteed onions. This is how you do that:
Dice 1/2 of a small onion finely - you want about 1/2 cup.
Put the onion into a large skillet with 1 Tbsp butter, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Just until cooked.
When the onions are soft and slightly brown, their done. Just add them to the meat mixture.
Mix the meat and onions for 1-2 minutes on a medium speed, and it's done. (I know, it looks revolting, but it will taste delicious after it's cooked.)
Scoop out 1-2 inch size balls (I'm using a 1 1/2 inch scoop).
Using the same pan you cooked the onions in, add 2 Tbsp of butter. When that's melted, add the meatballs. They don't need to be perfectly round, because they are going to come out all different shapes at the end. You could cook them in the oven, to get perfectly round balls, but that is not what we want here. We want all the meaty goodness they are going to leave in the skillet after they are done cooking. This will make our sauce especially yummy!
I cooked mine in two batches, adding more butter before cooking the second batch. While they are cooking, you want to turn the meatballs and try to brown them on 4 sides. I usually get at least 3 sides. They are not going to be round. Just accept this fact and move on.
When they are brown, they should be done. . .
Just cut one open to be sure. Yup! Their done.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a bowl and set aside for later. (This was my first batch. After both batches were done I had 44 meatballs and the bowl was full.)
In the same pan, add 1 more Tbsp of butter and let that melt.
Add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk in.
The flour will look like lumpy, wet sand. Now is when you can add 3 cups of chicken broth or stock, or you can use a concentrated stock packet like I am today.
This is the concentrated stock in the pan. I whisk it into the flour as good as I can,
and then add 2 cups of water. Add the water slowly, and whisk vigorously to get al the lumps out.
Add 1 1/4 cups of milk. (If you used 3 cups of broth or stock earlier, you would just add 1/4 cup of half and half or cream at this point.)
Add 1/2 tsp of allspice
and 1/8-1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg. (My nutmeg was getting so small that if I took a picture while grating, you wouldn't be able to see anything but my fingers. So, here is just the nutmeg on the grater. You get the idea though- you actually have to grate it into the sauce; it won't get there by just laying the nutmeg on top of the grater. You knew that already though.)
Also add 1/4 tsp of onion powder. Cook the sauce over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
If you like, you can add the meatballs at the end and just toss them in with the noodles, but I like to make sure that every meatball gets evenly coated. So, I dump in the meatballs . . .
give them a good coating and then scoop them back into the same bowl I had them in earlier. (You need the saute pan to only have the sauce in it when you add the noodles.)
If you haven't done so already, salt the water for your pasta generously,
and then add 1 lb of pasta. Any kind would work, but we like Linguine. Cook for 1 minute shy of the directions on the box.
Toss the mostly cooked noodles and the sauce together, along with 1 cup of the starchy cooking liquid. Cook over low heat until the noodles are cooked completely. (I don't know why the color on this shot is so off. Oh well, that's what I get for cooking after the sun starts to go down.)
When the noodles are done, and the sauce is thick again, add back the meatballs and stir them in.
Nothing left to do but plate and top with something green to add some color (I chose chives because that is the only herb in my garden that has survived.)
Here's the recipe:
adapted from Alton Brown's Swedish Meatballs
Turkey Meatballs and Linguine in a "Swedish" Sauce
1 1/2 pound ground lean turkey
2 slices of bread (white or potato work best)
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt, plus a pinch
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup of onions, diced fine
3 Tbsp butter, divided (plus more if needed)
meaty goodness and butter from cooking the meatballs
1/4 cup flour
3 cups of chicken broth/stock
1/4 cup cream
(In substitution of the stock and cream, you can also use 1 tub of Knorr Homestyle Stock with 2 cups water and 1 1/4 cups milk.)
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8-1/4 tsp nutmeg (to taste)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 cup starchy cooking water (from cooking the noodles)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 lb linguine (or other pasta) cooked 1 minute shy of "al dente" directions on the box
For the meatballs: In a small bowl, break up the bread slices and add the milk. Set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp of butter, add and the onions and a pinch of salt. Saute over medium heat, until translucent and a little brown. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the turkey, soaked bread pieces, allspice, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, pepper, egg yolks, and sauteed onions. Mix, with the paddle attachment, on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.
In the same large skillet that the onions were cooked, melt 2 Tbsp of butter. Scoop into 1-2 inch sized meatballs and carefully drop into the skillet. Cook the meatballs in a single layer ( you'll need to do two batches) over medium heat, turning every minute or so to brown 4 sides (they will not stay round, but that's OK). It's easiest to turn the meatballs using two spoons. When they are browned on all sides, cut one open to make sure it's done inside (no pink). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a bowl and set aside for later. Add more butter, if you need it, before cooking the second batch.
Put a large pot of water on to boil for the noodles. When it comes up to a boil, salt it generously and add the noodles. Cook for 1 minute shy of the "al dente" directions on the box. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.
For the sauce: In the same pan that you cooked the onions and meatballs, add 1/4 cup flour to the butter that's left over in the pan. Whisk together and let cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock slowly, whisking continuously to get any lumps out. Add the cream and spices. Taste for seasoning. When it's thickened, add the mostly cooked noodles and 1 cup starchy cooking water. Cook down until the sauce is thick again and the noodles are cooked through. Add the meatballs back in. Toss to coat and serve warm, garnished with fresh chives or parsley.