Thursday, August 10, 2006

Turkey meatballs with homemade marinara sauce

Time flies and it's already Thursday today. I have been following the korean series that my friends sent me since Monday. Because of this, the quality of dinners suffered a bit. We had fried beehoon as dinner on Monday,and burned chicken with white wine and onion sauce on Tuesday. Fried beehoon is the kind of dish I like to cook when I miss home. The chicken with white wine and onion sauce should have tasted better if I didn't overcook the chicken and charred the onion.Minus the burnt taste, it is a dish worth revisit someday.

Yesterday, I was guilt-driven and wanted to cook something nicer to make up for the past nights. I settled on a turkey meatballs recipe with homemade marinara sauce from Giada De Laurentiis's Everyday Italian. Unlike most of the recipes I tried on the book, this one is a winner. A taste of the marinara sauce quickly resume my confidence in this book that many have raved. I am going to buy many more cans of crushed tomatoes to make my own marinara sauce from now on. Although there isn't a lack of choices for tomato sauces,neither are they expensive; I just think that it's healthier to make my own's. In Giada De Laurentiis's recipe, she used only a teaspoon of salt, and make up the flavor by using other wholesome ingredients like onion,carrots, celery, and herbs. I didn't add sugar, but the sauce was sweet, and flavorful. I will not be surprised that other commercial brands will need to add other flavor enhancing ingredients to make it taste as nice.

In short, I am going to make a lot of marinara sauce to freeze. or perhaps I can give some away....

The turkey meatballs are also flavorful. They reminds me of the minced pork meatballs we have in porridge.The Asian version is healthier, being boiled insteads of fried like its western counterpart. I wish I could get hold of some minced pork here, but I never recall seeing it in the grocery stores. It also seems to have lesser choices of cuts for pork here, compared to beef or chicken.Not that I am a big pork fan. Quite the contrary, it is one of the things I can leave without.

Unlike the pork meatballs where chinese condiments are used for seasoning; the turkey meatballs used 2 types of cheese, ketchup, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. I love both versions. And I am glad that the ground turkey doesn't turn out bland and dry. Though the whole cooking process took almost one and a half hour, I don't mind coming back to this recipe when ground turkey are on sale again.

Turkey Meatballs with homemade Marinara Sauce

1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground dark turkey meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
26 ounces Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara sauce

Add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, parsley, Parmesan, Pecorino, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend. Mix in the turkey. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a large plate or baking sheet.
Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Pour off any excess oil. Add the marinara sauce, about 3 cups. Return all the meatballs to the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Marinara Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

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