So there's nothing terribly Christmasy about turkey meatballs, per se. Turkey meatballs are savory and delicious and hearty and filling, but they are not necessarily evocative of pine and reindeer and tinsel and large men in red suits.
Unless you cook them for dinner while you're decorating the tree and listening to Christmas music by the Ray Conniff Singers. When you're hauling boxes of festive cheer out of the basement, carefully unwrapping treasured ornaments from the 1970s and singing along with the effusive, sugary Conniff carolers, well, a no-fuss, tasty, stick-to-the-ribs meal is just what Rudolph ordered.
And so it is that tonight -- as I carefully place my great-grandmother's glass teapot ornament on the tallest branch, safely out of the reach of errant canine tails, and hang the painted plaster trilobite ornament that I made at middle school fossil camp (true) on the very back of the tree -- I make a delicious batch of turkey meatballs to enjoy atop a mountain of rigatoni. And at the same time a jolly Ray Conniff singer lecherously appeals, "Girls, I'm under the MISTLETOE!" I will most likely be serving myself another helping.
On Halloween I like to have a big pot of soup or stew or chili bubbling away...something warm and seasonal to feed Nephews when they come in from their chilly trick-or-treating adventures. Something easy to make that keeps the adults sated and toasty on the inside as they hand out candy and don embarrassing masks and wigs. Serving turkey meatballs on Christmas-tree decorating night serves much the same purpose: comfort food to fill your belly as you attend to the important holiday tasks at hand.
Welcome, December. Welcome, beautiful, nostalgic and lovely Christmas season. Welcome, Ray Conniff and your earnest Singers. Come in, unwind a strand of brightly colored lights and have a turkey meatball.
20 oz. ground turkey
1/4 of a large white or yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly-cracked black pepper
2 T. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 t. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. grated Pecorino cheese
3/4 c. matzo meal or panko
1/4 c. olive oil, for frying
About 2 quarts of your favorite marinara sauce (here's mine)
Place all the ingredients, through the matzo meal or panko, into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, using your hands. (I suppose you could use a spoon, but there's nothing like your hands to really incorporate the ingredients well.)
In a large pot over medium heat, heat the marinara sauce until it begins to bubble. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer.
While the marinara sauce is coming up to temperature, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Shape the turkey mixture into meatballs a little larger than a golf ball; place in the oil. Fry, turning the meatballs to brown them evenly, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the browned meatballs to the marinara sauce and cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve with pasta, or slice and serve between some yummy crusty bread. Or, just eat them on their own.
Makes 10 large meatballs.