Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gobble It Right Up!

Spaghetti and Smoky Cheese-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs
In about a month turkey will take center stage for Thanksgiving, but I was in the mood for a preview of fall's favorite fowl. Meatballs are a great dinner idea for fall and winter They are inexpensive to make, quick to throw together, and the flavor combos are endless. I turned up the taste factor on this meatball riff with a generous combination of spices, flavorful smoked mozzarella cheese, shallots, and diced pancetta. The flavor combination on the meatballs is bold, so I decided to go with my Simple and Delicious Marinara Sauce but feel free to use your favorite- either from a jar or from scratch. Either way, you won't be disappointed with this hearty dinner.

- 1 lb ground turkey
- 4 oz. diced pancetta
- 2 Tbsp. finely minced Italian parsley
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 egg
- a splash of milk
- 1 tsp. herbs d' Provence
- salt and pepper
- 1/3 c. dried breadcrumbs
- 16 oz. dried spaghetta
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 6 c. marinara sauce

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with a generous coating of cooking spray.

While things are heating up, place ground turkey, pancetta, parsley, red pepper flakes, shallots, egg, milk, herbs d' Provence, and breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle mixture with about a tsp. of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Gently combine ingredients with bare hands, until the mixture is well incorporated. Form one meatball at a time in fingers, rolling gently in the palm to create a golf-ball sized sphere. Gently push a cheese cube into the center of the ball and roll around so that the cheese is totally covered. Place finished meatballs in the prepared baking dish. Once meatballs are formed, bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes until they are cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove from oven.

While meatballs are baking, heat the marinara sauce in a medium sauce pan. When the salted water comes to a rolling boil, cook pasta to al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1/4 c. pasta cooking water. Place the hot drained noodles in a large serving bowl and toss with butter and reserved pasta cooking water. Pour heated sauce over the pasta, then top with cooked meatballs. Serve with bread and salad!

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